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WATCH: Massachusetts family fighting to keep adopted dog

The adoptive family of Coco says they will not send back the dog to a woman in Aruba who claims to be its original owner for ethical and moral reasons.

Dan and Lisa O’Connell of North Attleborough, Massachusetts adopted Coco during a trip to Aruba last fall.

They say they had seen the dog several times running freely on her own during their time in the island nation and noticed that she was in bad shape.

“We noticed that she seemed dehydrated, hungry, loaded with ticks. She seemed sad,” Lisa told WJAR.

“Its paws were raw from either the hot sand or the hot asphalt,” said Dan in an interview with CBS.

WATCH: Colorado man’s dog mistakenly adopted by other family

The O’Connells believed the dog was a stray as it had no collar or tag.

They took her to a vet, and then went to the Animal Relief Foundation of Aruba to adopt the dog.

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Shortly after the adoption papers were signed, the agency emailed the O’Connells to tell them that they were contacted by a woman who was looking for the dog. The couple emailed the woman to reassure her that the dog was safe, but the woman asked for the dog to be returned.

According to this Facebook page set up by the woman who claims to be Coco’s Arubian owner, the dog’s name is Whitey.

The custody battle has become fierce with the O’Connells claiming that sending Coco back would be “putting the dog’s life in jeopardy.”

The case is now in court in Massachusetts with both sides of the battle claiming their rightful ownership.

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