PANORAMA CITY, Calif. -- A mother is fighting to get her 4-year-old son's puppy back after the Rhodesian Ridgeback escaped from their backyard and later was adopted from a rescue organization by another family, CBS Los Angeles reports.
The 7-month-old female, named Raffiki, disappeared from Rosa Torres' Panorama City backyard on Feb. 13.
"We have no idea how she got out of the house," Torres said.
Raffiki, who Torres had planned to get microchipped three days before she got away, was apparently turned in to an animal shelter without any identification. Torres, meanwhile, put up signs and checked a different branch of the shelter, which serves her neighborhood.
A volunteer eventually found Raffiki online at Karma Rescue, which had received an adoption application for the dog.
Torres said by the time Karma Rescue responded to her phone calls, it had found the puppy a new home.
"She's not a dog for us," Torres said. "She's not just a pet. She's a family member. She's my daughter. She's my son's best friend."
The rescue group apparently told Torres to apply to adopt the dog, as well. Torres, however, was turned down. She believes she was rejected because she lives in a "bad part of town" and because Raffiki wasn't microchipped, spayed or wearing tags when she was found, according to an online petition.
"How do I explain it to my son, you know? 'I'm sorry, but a rescue doesn't want to help us get your dog back,'" Torres said.
Attorney Marla Tauscher, who has had cases involving similar situations, said she may go after Karma Rescue legally, but hopes to find some way for Torres to be reunited with the puppy.
Meantime, Raffiki's name was changed to Kami, and her new owners, who legally own the dog, said they will not give her back.
Torres said she was willing to pay the new owners to get Raffiki.
"We just want her back home," she said.In a statement, Karma Rescue's Rande Levin said, "We regret any pain that these events have caused. We will continue to advocate tirelessly on behalf of the animals of our city and the people who love them."