HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – A Hollywood couple is heartbroken after their sick dog vanished from their yard. But that sadness turned to anger when someone reached out and said they found the dog but demanded money for its return.
Dr. Floof is a cute dog with a tough past. She was found roaming a Hollywood street by Ben Swanson and Caleb Merendino in September.
They tried to find her home but couldn't, so they decided to make her part of the family.
"She is a ball of springy energy. She was elderly and had a lot going on medically but acted as though she was a puppy," Swanson explained to CBS4's Ted Scouten.
The pair brought Dr. Floof to Broward Animal Care to have her checked out, fearing she may have cancer.
"It's as though they found a beautiful puppy in a field, they found a lovely dog they're committed to but very committed in a real way. The dog needs them and needs some medical intervention," said Emily Wood Director of Broward Animal Care.
Dr. Floof, however, went missing on October 14. They plastered signs all over town and flooded social media. Then, they got a text on October 28. "It said, 'I have your dog, it's in my store. I found it.' We're thinking great," Swanson said.
It wasn't so great after all.
"We text him back," Swanson said. "He won't give us a picture of the dog and he won't tell us where he found it."
Swanson explained the texter said his camera wasn't working so he couldn't snap a picture. Then he asked for a reward. And if he didn't get it, he'd sell the dog.
"He was demanding 250 dollars be wired to him via Cash App before he would bring us our dog. He claimed he had the dog, if we pay him, he will drive it to us," Swanson recalled.
"There's a very good chance this is a scammer, but we don't have evidence to say it's not ransom," Merendino added.
Identifying himself as a reporter, Ted Scouten called and sent the man a series of text messages asking if he could see the dog. The man replied that Scouten would have to give him money.
"So, if you have the dog and are not returning it unless you get 250 dollars, is that holding it for ransom?" asked Scouten.
He replied, "Yea."
"It's incredibly disappointing and sad and angering really because you expect people to have basic human decency," said Swanson.
So, Dr. Flood remains missing, and no one knows if this man has her or not.
Police have been notified.
If you'd like to read all of the text messages between Dr. Floof's owners and the man who claims to have her, watch the video below:
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