It is generally thought that there can not be substitutional service on a ship of an in rem Statement of Claim or Warrant for arrest. However, there are exceptions to even the most steadfast rules, as this case demonstrates. We can do no better but to introduce this case using the words of Prothonotary Hargrave.
The Plaintiff applies, ex parte, for an order for substitutional service on the Defendant, Roger Hills, not an unusual application and one easily obtained on the material filed. However, the Plaintiff goes further and seeks an order for substitutional service of both the Statement of Claim and of the warrant for arrest on the Defendant vessel, for the "Zomby Woof" is apparently in the possession of a large and powerful animal, having short coarse hair, a broad head and pendant ears, namely a Rottweiler.
It seems the subject ship, a small fishing, vessel was on land on a trailer and was jealously guarded by a Rottweiler. Thus, access to the ship to serve the Statement of Claim or Warrant was impossible. Under these circumstances the Court ordered substitutional service by leaving copies in the Defendant’s mailbox. The Prothonotary concluded: "In this way… the Sheriff will stand a sporting chance of staying beyond of the reach of the jaws of Mr. Hills’ Rottweiler."