Dachshund donation dispute: Why the government got involved in Obie's 50-pound weight loss journey

PORTLAND (KPTV) -- Donations poured in to help Obie the overweight dachshund.

According to a spokeswoman for Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Obie's owner raised near $75,000 in donations through PayPal and from the sale of Obie-related merchandise between August 2012 and February 2014.

In January, the Oregon Department of Justice's Charitable Activities Section began investigating how those donations were spent.

Last month, Nora Vanatta said she had done nothing wrong through the entire process, which had seen Obie become a worldwide viral sensation as the once 77-pound pup shed more than 50 pounds.

"The AG bullied and harassed me even though they saw that I didn't misuse the money," Vanatta wrote in an email on Thursday.

Vanatta posted on the Obie Dog Journey Facebook page that all donated money was spent on helping Obie and other dogs.

However, the Department of Justice claimed Vanatta's activities "constitute false and misleading solicitations" after she said she would donate any leftover funds from Obie's expenses to charity.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said the purpose of the DOJ investigation was to make sure that happened.

As part of an agreement signed Wednesday, Vanatta will donate more than $13,000 to nine nonprofit animal organizations, according to court documents.

The remaining money will be used for Obie's future care and expenses, according to the attorney general's office.

The agreement states Vanatta can no longer seek donations for Obie or imply that funds are needed for his care.

The attorney general's office reported that, according to records provided by Vanatta to the DOJ, she incurred various expenses since adopting Obie, including $15,000 in legal fees.

Vanatta was sued for custody of the dog by the rescue group that had Obie, and the matter was settled in January 2013.

The Facebook page for Obie is followed by more than 330,000 people. Vanatta said in an email Thursday that she never claimed to a nonprofit organization and no one who donated money for Obie ever complained to her.