Gay rights lawyer adopts abandoned hermaphrodite dog

The Detroit News

A hermaphrodite dog has been adopted after it was rescued from the streets suffering from major health problems.

The pit bull mix known as Cody was formally adopted Monday by Dana Nessel, a gay rights attorney involved in representing a same-sex couple’s marriage case that made headlines and worked its way through the courts.

Nessel represented Hazel Park nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse in a case seeking to legally adopt one another's children and get married. The case culminated with a U.S. Supreme Court win in June, the couple’s wedding August and the joint adoption of their children in November.

Now the only battle Nessel will fight is how she and her wife Alanna’s two cats get along with the pit bull mix that has the organs of a male and female. The family also is in the midst of choosing the dog’s new name.

Nessel is pulling for Ziggy Stardust, after the famous David Bowie song and character from the early 1970s.

“He/she is a super sweetheart,” Nessel told The Detroit News. “My family has been without a dog. He/she has a great disposition ... very affectionate. We just want to give it lots of love.”

Nessel said at some point as a family “we’re going to pick a pronoun and we’re going to stick with it.” It turns out the dog, she said, urinates “both ways.”

The family’s two cats, she said, were decidedly “less excited” about the 2-year-old dog’s presence but they will eventually come around. Nessel said the dog was brought to their home last Saturday for a meet-and-greet session and that it will take time.

“This is just a sweetheart of a dog,” she said.

When Cody was turned in to the Detroit Dog Rescue in early January, it showed signs of pneumonia, distemper and malnutrition. Few details were available about the dog’s background or how city officials came across the pooch.

The hermaphrodite dog is a seldom-seen phenomenon, DDR executive director Kristina Rinaldi has said. Statistics are difficult to track, but such an instance is “not something that happens very often,” Rinaldi said.