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Dog vanishes from Mesa grooming salon, police investigating

Posted at 7:14 PM, Feb 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-27 08:27:54-05

Where is Bebe? It is a baffling mystery that has left Mesa Police and a community stumped.

The 2-year-old Biewen Terrier was dropped off for a routine grooming at the Animal Clipper grooming salon, near Higley and Brown roads, on Saturday around 11 a.m.  

Chrissy Willingham, Bebe's owner, said she had used the salon three to four times before with no problems.

"They did a good job," Willingham said.

This time, the appointment ended with a devastating phone call.

Willingham said about an hour after she dropped off her dog, she got a call from staff saying they couldn't find Bebe.

"What do you mean you don't have my dog? What do you mean you lost her? What do you mean you don't know?" Questions Willingham says you never expect to ask your dog groomer.

ABC15 reached out to the owner of Animal Clipper, Dan Castillo. Castillo said he too was not just baffled, but devastated by this incident.

"Confused, dismayed, bewildered, shocked. Twenty-six years of operating a business I've never had this situation happen before," Castillo said.

He expressed sorrow to the Willingham family and said his whole family was also suffering the consequences of this.

"My wife, my son, my daughter, my staff, and for me, the last couple nights have been sleepless nights as I am sure it is for the Willingham family," Castillo said.

He said he was not only interviewing all of the staff who worked on Saturday, but he had also posted missing dog flyers throughout neighborhoods surrounding his business, and all over social media.

The business does not have surveillance cameras, but Castillo said he was already trying to track down video from surrounding businesses to see if they may have captured anything.

"My customer entrusted us with their family member. All these years we've always gotten them back home safely in a better state than when they came in. This is the type of publicity no business wants to have," Castillo said.

Willingham says a staff member took her dog from her and carried her to inside the facility to place her in a crate to await her grooming session.

While searching for Bebe, the owner allowed her into the restricted area to take a look. Willingham stated she noted the dog had been placed in a crate that was high above the ground. She wondered if there may have been an unfortunate accident at the facility.

Willingham said she did not believe her dog would have escaped out of an open door, as Bebe immensely disliked walking on the ground.  

"She has to be carried everywhere. She hates the feeling of cement on her paws; she won't even get on the gravel," Willingham said.

She said her prized Biewer Terrier, also an emotional support animal who is on medication, was valued at about $4,800. The thought that the dog may have stolen had also crossed her mind. She was certain someone inside the facility had the answer.

"What happened to her? Who did it? If something did happen, if it was an accident, please be honest about it. I'm very forgiving. I'm the most forgiving person out there. Please just clear your conscience and let me have this stress relieved. Just say it was an accident, accidents happen all the time. She's fragile. Only 3-4 pounds, so there is a possibility an accident happened. I just want to know so I can move on," Willingham said. 

Castillo said he was not at the facility when the dog was reported missing. 

"I'd like to express to the Willingham family our sincere, sincerest apologies. I've committed to Ms. Chrissy that whatever it takes to do right in her eyes, I'm willing to do so. I know that at this time all she wants is Bebe, and we're trying to find Bebe. I know my words will not console the family at this time, and I can certainly appreciate their feelings," Castillo said.

Mesa police now have investigators working the case.

"We would like very much to solve this mystery like any other. A pet for most people, is family, so we know how important this is," said Detective Steve Berry, a spokesman for the Mesa Police Department.

If you know where she is, or what happened to her, call Mesa Police or the numbers listed on the flyer, 602-524-6858 or 480-830-2040.

A reward is available for any information that will help bring Bebe home.