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(Memphis) They are calling it “Operation Bring Stewie Home.”

A Memphis couple says the puppy they love was unfairly taken away by a rescue society.

It’s caused both sides to lawyer-up, and and now they may battle it out in court.

The couple only wants one thing under their Christmas tree — Stewie.

“We are sad. We miss him a lot,” said Shaina Guttman.

The kennel is empty and the dog toys have been abandoned, ever since their little black lab was taken away.

Problem is, Stewie was never really their dog.

“We filled out an adoption application,” said Lee Lakey.

Shaina Guttman and Lee Lakey fostered Stewie for months through the Desoto Animal Rescue Society, also known as DARS, and were on the road to adopting.

“We were told once he was neutered, it would be finalized,” said Lakey.

They say DARS picked up the dog on December 2nd for neutering, and then wouldn’t give him back.

“They wouldn’t return our calls or emails. They wouldn’t speak to us at all,” said Guttman.

“The only thing they would say every time I asked them was ‘It was just not a good fit,’” said Lakey.

Both sides got lawyers, and two weeks later, Shaina and Lee got some answers.

The couple got a letter from DARS explaining five reasons they were unfit, including that they left their dog out for hours at a time on their balcony.

The couple says that is completely untrue.

“It’s very confusing and upsetting at the same time,” said Lakey. “We still don’t have any clue as to why, other than the false allegations.”

The attorney representing DARS tells WREG that the animal society can keep Stewie if it wants because Stewie is legally its dog.  

Lee and Shaina were only fostering the pup.

It sent us a statement saying “due to concerns surrounding Stewey’s well-being, DARS felt it was in the best interest of the dog to be back in our care.”

“Their main goal is to find a home for a puppy or kitten or any animal that is in need and here we are. We have a perfect home and we love him,” said Guttman.

The couple knows they can adopt another dog but it won’t bring Stewie home for Christmas.

“We love Stewie.”

The couple plans to take the Desoto Animal Rescue Society to court sometime in January in hopes a judge will let them get Stewie back.