A Mesa family learned an expensive lesson after losing their family pet.
Nidia Valdez said their 5-year old dog escaped out the front door three weeks ago. The devastated family drove all over the neighborhood, printed out flyers, posted on social media pages and apps, all to get the word out.
A neighborhood animal advocate Roz Young saw their post on the NextDoor app, and made it her mission to help the family find their missing dog.
They say they had pictures of "Bobby" posted up on Arizona "lost dog" Facebook pages, and at local shelters.
Then this past weekend, a neighbor contacted Young saying he had seen a dog that looked just like Bobby up for adoption through an Apache Junction rescue called 2 Da Rescue, owned by Karen Franklin.
Valdez said she immediately recognized her dog from the post because of the markings on his face.
Young said she tried to contact Franklin, but after getting no response decided to show up at the PetSmart adoption event, thinking the rescue would be cooperative and excited at the prospect of re-uniting the dog with it's owner.
She was surprised at the response.
"She wouldn't even look at the flyer I was trying to show her. She put It down and that was it. She didn't want to hear about this. She was very antagonistic, very aggressive, basically telling me that she didn't know if she was going to give the dog back because she didn't know if it was a good environment for the dog," said Young.
ABC15 tried to track down Franklin at the address listed on the business card of her non-profit. A staff member said she was out sick.
Franklin did return our call and agreed to talk to ABC15. Franklin said the dog had been brought to her by someone who said they had seen a person throw the dog out the car window.
ABC15 asked Franklin if she had contacted Mesa police or the county about the incident. Franklin said she had put up posters of the lost dog all over the Maricopa County Animal Shelter.
Franklin said she had not seen any listings of Bobby being posted up as a "lost dog" on all the popular lost dog Facebook sites.
"This rescue just had to open up the Lost Dogs of Arizona Facebook page, and there was Bobby," said Young.
Franklin said she waited two weeks before putting Bobby up for adoption. She also said she did not have any proof the dog belonged to the family, and asked ABC15 Arizona if we had any proof the dog was really theirs.
"If they came with vet records and if I didn't put any money into the dog, I would have given them the dog if they had proof," she said.
Franklin said she charged them the adoption fee based on the medical expenses her rescue had spent on Bobby.
"We had to neuter the dog. The dog had to be groomed, the dog was micro-chipped, the dog was de-wormed, the dog had all his shots. What do you think that cost?" said Franklin.
The family said more than the money, they were appalled at the way they were treated by the rescue.
"They were just all about the money. All that mattered was the money to them," said Valdez.
"I understand paying them back for the shots and all that. That is fine but the way they treated us was really very rude," added Valdez.
ABC15 contacted the Maricopa County animal shelter. Staff said most rescues usually contact them about lost or stray dogs they pick up. Staff also said if rescues suspected abuse or neglect they should contact police immediately.
Advocates said this story is a good reminder for all pet owners to make sure to update your dog’s tags, and microchip your pet. If you lose a dog, make sure to check local rescue websites along with contacting the humane society and county shelter as well.