MESA, AZ — With more people home during the pandemic, many have decided to add a pet to their family.
"We really feel like a dog is part of a home," said Colleen. "It was going to be a Christmas gift for my daughter."
Jennifer's family shared in the excitement.
"My son would watch our name on the waitlist, like pretty much every day," said Jennifer.
While Sue says she just wanted to make some memories with her grandkids.
"They just love animals, and I thought it'd be so cute to have them with the new puppy," said Sue.
Each of these people decided to get their dog from the same place - Cox Family Doodles in Mesa.
"My husband did a lot of research and we chose her because she had good reviews," said Colleen.
"I was just looking for breeders of doodles and I found her online amongst some other people," said Stella,
"We found her listed or recommended on a Facebook group," said Jennifer.
Each of them says they put down $500 deposits on their pets that cost $2,500. They expected that they would get their pets in 6 months or in some cases, at least a year. They say that did not happen.
Jennifer said the Cox Family Doodle "website started changing. [The owner] removed the waitlist altogether. So, we couldn't see where our place was anymore."
More than a dozen people - some as far away as Canada- contacted us saying they trusted Cox Family Doodles, but now can't get a dog or any answers.
"In November, everything just stopped completely. Like there was no more videos on Instagram, there was no more updated pictures, her website was not being updated at all," said Stella.
However, these people say the Owner Elise Cox had plenty of excuses.
"She couldn't repay anybody because that money had been spent," said Colleen.
"She couldn't give everybody back their deposit because she was getting so many bad reviews," said Jennifer.
The Let Joe Know Team obtained an email sent from the Cox Family Doodles account to customers. It was signed by the owner Elise.
It reads, "An Update To Refund Families."
In it she states several reasons for delays including pregnancy complications, having COVID-19, that people caring for the dogs she breeds have turned on her, being falsely reported to CPS by her husband's ex-wife, and people going to great lengths to "ruin [her] reputation."
Read the full email here.
For the people who contacted us, they say the most shocking part was the list of 60+ other people also waiting for a refund.
Elise writes she decided to include the list of who she owes out of transparency.
We saw contracts or receipts showing an average deposit of $500 for 14 of those people who still don't know if they'll ever see it again.
"That wasn't her money to spend. It was a deposit for the puppy. Like she didn't earn that. We didn't get anything for it," said Colleen.
"She should have never been accepting deposits on all those puppies," said Sue.
When The Let Joe Know team tried contacting Elise Cox, she responded to our emails at first. She wrote COVID has "extremely slowed the refund process" and everyone would get their money back.
When the team pushed for when that would happen and why so many deposits were taken in the first place, she threatened to sue. She also sent a letter to customers reiterating a "hate group" is out to get her and they will be "prosecuted to the fullest extent for their illegal behavior." She wrote that everyone needed to remove or cancel any complaints and bad reviews against her company.
Customers we spoke to say they got a threat, but still no money.
"It's just I think it's a pride thing. And she's having a hard time admitting that she's made a huge mess," said Stella.
The biggest takeaway - do your research BEFORE any money is exchanged.
- Check Reviews
- Pay with a credit card so you can dispute it later if you don't get what you paid for
- Get a copy of the contract that states deadlines for when you should get your product
For more on taking your case to small claims court, click here.