Bella, the Maltese mix who mysteriously disappeared two weeks ago from a home in Durham, N.C., has been returned to her family — and in an equally mysterious manner.
Bella wandered away from home on March 11, and, minutes later, a neighbor saw the driver of a car stop and pick her up at an intersection.
A day later Scott and Kerry Holmes received a phone call from a person claiming to have found their dog. But when they didn’t specify a reward amount, the caller hung up without supplying any additional information.
The family contacted police, and began putting up “lost dog” flyers.
Near the end of last week, a third party contacted the family in an attempt to arrange the return of Bella. The family later met her at a nearby church and picked the dog up.
But neither the Holmes nor police, who have made an arrest in the case, are saying much more than that.
Scott Holmes, an attorney, said Bella was safely returned home Thursday night. “Our family is so happy she is home. We are celebrating her return. She has slept a lot and seems to be perking up today,” he said.
He declined to offer any specifics about the dog’s return, but did say that his family is collecting reward money for a single mother in Chapel Hill who provided information that led to Bella’s return.
Meanwhile, police arrested Amanda Shanese Bynum, 28, of Carrboro, and charged her with extortion, larceny of a dog and felony conspiracy, according to the Durham Herald-Sun. According to police, Bynum threatened not to return the dog unless she was paid $600.
According to WTVD, Bella traveled at least as far as Charlotte during the time she was missing. A photograph of her at a Charlotte pet supply store, wearing some new dog clothes, appeared on Bynum’s social media page, the Holmes family said.
Holmes said that after being returned Bella was lethargic over the weekend, but that she is bouncing back. He said she appeared to be in good shape physically.
“My wife and Bella are catching up on their sleep and are really, really glad to be reunited,” Holmes said. “They’re very close, and they’re doing really well. There’s been a lot of joy in our house since we got Bella home.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 26th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, bella, dogs, durham, home, kidnapped, larceny, maltese, missing, mix, north carolina, pets, ransom, returned, theft
It would be easy to blame the disappearance of Fluffy on Craigslist. Too easy.
Fluffy’s owner deserves some of the blame — for leaving her four-year-old shih tzu-Maltese mix with a woman who responded to her Craigslist ad for a pet sitter, without ever visiting the home her dog was going to be staying in.
But the real culprit, police in Florida say, is the woman they are now looking for — the one who identified herself as Keyana Morales when she responded to the pet owner’s ad, and who was hired after meeting with Fluffy and her owner a couple of times in a local park.
Fluffy’s owner hired Morales to care for Fluffy while she and her family were on vacation out of the country. When she returned from vacation, Fluffy — and Morales — were nowhere to be found.
Her phone calls and emails went unanswered, and the address the pet sitter gave her turned out to be a vacant house, Local10 reports.
Police in Boynton Beach say Morales’ name was phony as well. They are now seeking the woman they believe absconded with the dog after posing as a pet sitter – Shamari Patrick, 23.
Police say Patrick lives out of her car, a burgundy Grand Marquis. (Anyone with information about Patrick or Fluffy is asked to call police at 561-742-6135 or Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 800-458-TIPS.)
Police say they believe stealing Fluffy was Patrick’s intent from the start, which, unless she was paid up front, doesn’t make much sense, and doesn’t explain why Patrick, as Morales, stayed in touch with the pet owner during her trip, and emailed her photos of Fluffy.
We don’t know if police are jumping to conclusions, but Fluffy’s owner sure did before leaving on vacation in July when she decided to hire a pet sitter without exercising hardly any of the diligence that was due.
Maybe that’s why she’s seeking not to be identified by name. News reports refer to her as Fluffy’s owner, or “the victim.” Perhaps she’s a little embarassed about having done so little homework before entrusting her dog to a stranger.
Craigslist, and the Internet, make everything seem so quick and easy that we no longer see them as what they truly are — crapshoots, unreliable and dangerous, in large part because they make us think answers and solutions are just a click away.
Craigslist, and all the rest of the Internet, should be seen as a starting point, from which to move on to further research. Otherwise they can lead to endings that, as could be the case for Fluffy, are not at all happy.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, craigslist, dog, dog sitter, dogs, find, florida, fluffy, health, hired, internet, maltese, pet sitter, pets, safety, shamari patrick, shih-teese, shih-tzu, stolen, theft, vacation
Jessica S. Skacel, 30, of Derry, and Ashley M. Giovannagelo, 22, of Greensburg, were charged with criminal conspiracy and theft, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported yesterday.
According to court documents, Skacel was hired as a caretaker for the sisters, now ages 85 and 83, in their home in Derry Township in 2011. Giovannagelo later assisted her in those duties.
Police say they started stealing from the sisters — both from their bank accounts and money the sisters had squirreled away in hiding places around the house — in early 2012.
Police began an investigation after a man who has power of attorney for the sisters noticed their bank accounts, both of which exceeded $100,000, ” were basically empty,” according to court documents.
“The bank records showed that both victims were making regular, large cash withdrawals from their accounts in amounts such as $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 and even $20,000 at a time,” an investigating officer stated.
Police say the money was used to cover travel expenses to dog shows. Skacel’s former husband, Kyle Squib, told police she purchased two trailers for more than $5,000 to transport dogs to shows.
Police say Skacel admitted to stealing an estimated $40,000-$50,000 from the sisters.
Skacel is a dog groomer and Giovannagelo shows dogs regularly, according to their Facebook pages.
Skacel and Giovannagelo were fired as caretakers for the sisters in September 2013, shortly after the investigation began, police said.
Both face preliminary hearings Sept. 3 before a district judge.
(Photo: Ashley Giovannagelo shows a St. Bernard at a dog show in a photo posted on her Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 31st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: Ashley Giovannagelo, caretakers, charged, competition, contests, derry, dog, dog show, dog shows, dogs, elderly, groomer, Jessica Skacel, pennsylvania, police, purebreds, sisters, st. bernard, theft
Through the month of December, Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) has been holding a bake sale on 34th Street, an area of Baltimore known for its over-the-top display of Christmas lights.
In addition to raising money for the shelter, BARCS is using the opportunity to educate the public about the shelter and about pit bulls – and how, despite the stereotypes, they aren’t innately evil. Generally, when a pit bull turns bad, it’s a human who has turned him that way.
As if to prove that point — that our problem is not bad dogs, it’s bad humans – a particularly heartless member of the latter species approached the BARCS booth last night, asked a BARCS volunteer if the money was being raised for charity, then ran off with the donation box.
A BARCS staff person chased the thief down the street, and he was eventually caught by another man and an off-duty firefighter. When police arrived, the box of donations was recovered and the suspect was arrested.
Meanwhile, back at the BARCS booth, 34th Street residents and citizens there to enjoy the lights came forward in droves, offering assistance and donations to replace those that had been stolen.
“Yes, we DO believe in Santa Claus!” BARCS said in a press release yesterday.
BARCS will be selling baked goods on 34th Street from 7 to 9 p.m. every night through December 31.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 34th street, animals, baltimore, baltimore animal rescue & care shelter, barcs, charity, christmas, christmas lights, crime, dogs, donations, evil, good, maryland, miracle, news, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, rescues, santa claus, shelters, steals, stolen, theft, thief
The paintings were found in a warehouse, and the search continues for the suspected thief, the Times-Picayune reported.
Police are looking for Lee Szakats, 60, of New Orleans in connection with the thefts.
A second tipster called the gallery, telling them where the paintings could be found.
Rodrigue, a Cajun artist, is best known for his blue dog paintings.
(Photo: Hilary Scheinuk / The Times-Picayune)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 23rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, artist, blue dog, cajun, dogs, gallery, george rodrigue, new orleans, news, ohmidog!, paintings, pets, stolen, taken, theft
The reason? Folks were emptying the dispensers only hours after they were being filled, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
“People walk up and take them until they’re gone,” he said. “And it’s not just one isolated incident. It’s everywhere and often.”
John Keprios, director of parks and recreation for the city of Edina, said the $12,000-per-year poop bag program was halted at eight parks that formerly stocked the bags.
“I would have loved to have kept providing them,” Keprios said. “Financially, it’s not just feasible if they treat it that way.”
One wonders how much it cost to put up the signs notifying people of that at the eight parks.
(Photo: Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bags, dispensers, dog, droppings, edina, emptied, empty, feces, john keprios, minnesota, news, ohmidog!, parks, pets, poop, poop bags, theft
(Update: Grazio has been found and returned to his owner. Fox News reports she received a call from a man in Catonsville who had the dog. “I can’t give specific details … but I thank him,” the dog’s owner said.)
Police have arrested a suspect in the heist of a Baltimore woman’s $4,000 puppy.
Catherine Bergholz, who described her nine-week-old puppy, Grazio, as a show dog, told police the dog was taken on Thursday.
“Can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I’m already up to smoking four packs of cigarettes a day,” Bergholz told WJZ-TV. “Just to think that someone would do this to me is horrible. That was not just a dog; that was my baby.”
Grazio is an American Bully, a breed established in the 1990s and not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. The breed was created by crossing American Staffordshire terriers with American pit bull terriers.
While Bergholz was gone from her Curtis Bay home last Thursday, a man opened her door, grabbed the puppy and ran to his car, a witness told police. A nearby security camera took pictures of that car and police soon arrested Ronald Johnson. Johnson has told police he doesn’t know where Grazio is.
The owner is offering a reward for the safe return of the dog. Anyone with information is asked to call police.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american bully, animals, baltimore, catherine bergholz, crime, curtis bay, dog, found, grazio, missing, news, ohmidog!, pets, puppy, returned, stolen, theft