A handful of supporters showed up at a Mesa courthouse to support a Valley woman whose dog was stolen from a grooming salon.
It's been almost a month now since the disappearance of Bebe, a three pound Biewer Terrier who had been dropped off at Animal Clippers for a routine bath and trim. That was the last time her owner Chrissy Willingham saw her pup.
Mesa police quickly arrested a grooming salon employee, Izabella Santa Bujanda and her boyfriend Anthony Marc Barrera, charging both with theft. Court records indicate the couple admitted to stealing the dog by smuggling her out of the salon through the back door in a towel, then dumped her in the Las Sendas neighborhood after feeling the heat from police and the media.
Willingham said she believed the couple either still had the dog or had sold her to someone.
Bebe's story caught the attention of many animal lovers, several of whom took time off work to show up and support Willingham in court Thursday.
Marie Kosmowski was one of them.
"Oh my God I'd be devastated. I don't know what I would do. I would die, it's a family member. Gives me chills just talking about it. I just want to cry. I can't believe someone can do something like this," said Kosmowski.
Carol Hites also showed up to court for the suspect's first hearing.
"I feel the criminals should be prosecuted. The dog was stolen so [Bebe] should be returned to the family member that loves it and misses it," said Hites.
The case also drew the attention of former prosecutor Lisa Kiser who is now in private practice. Kiser said she has offered to help Willingham pro-bono after hearing this story.
"I care because I'm an animal lover. I have three rescues myself. I would want to see justice done," said Kiser.
Willingham said it was nerve racking for her to face the two suspects, now charged with the theft of her dog.
"Before I saw them my nerves were bad. When I saw them and how they were so giggly and nonchalant my anger set in. I definitely wanted to yell at them and shake some sense into them because they have none," said Willingham.
The case now heads to criminal court. There is a $1,500 dollar reward for Bebe's safe return. If you know where she is please contact the Mesa Police Department.