LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A case of puppy love has turned into a contentious legal battle between a New York tattoo artist and his ex-girlfriend, who allegedly took the man’s dog to Los Angeles.

A judge ruled Wednesday that “Knuckles” the Puggle should stay in Los Angeles for now, but will revisit the case later next month.

“I’m not worried. I’m just here to protect my dog. I was never in New York when he made that order and they don’t have jurisdiction over me,” said owner Sarah Brega.

“Knuckles was kidnapped by my ex-girlfriend and the legal fees to retrieve him are going to bankrupt me,” says 34-year-old Craig Dershowitz.

In a New York Supreme Court filing, Dershowitz claims ex-girlfriend Sarah Brega wrongfully took Knuckles, after the couple ended their relationship — a claim Brega denies.

Dershowitz claims the bi-coastal custody battle has cost him as much as $60,000, and he’s asking the public to help fund his legal efforts.

“I had to hire two private investigators to find [his ex-girlfriend],” Dershowitz says in a video posted online.

Dershowitz is selling t-shirts, puppy kisses, and even a professional portrait inspired by Knuckles to reach his $20,000 fundraising goal.

As of Tuesday, donors had pledged nearly $3,704 with just a month left before Dershowitz’s self-imposed deadline.

According to Dershowitz, a New York judge has already ruled that Knuckles should be in his custody.

In court Wednesday, Judge Peter J. Mirich said that he wanted to wait and see how a June 6 jurisdiction hearing in New York plays out.

“She absolutely frustrated to have to go through this. This is a gentleman that she had a relationship with, broke up with over a year ago. He left the dog with her when he moved out and now all of the sudden when she decides she is going to move to California and he can’t get in contact with her, he decides he wants the dog,” said Brega’s attorney Robert Splinter.

Despite an uphill battle that has cost him his life savings, Dershowitz vows to see the campaign through to the end.

“All I want is to bring Knuckles back home to me,” he said. “He really is my son.”

Another hearing has been scheduled for June 19.

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