Puppies can be a handful, but one Valley couple says their roommate went too far when he admitted to throwing their pup into the desert after becoming frustrated with the dog.
The allegation has resulted in a massive desert dog hunt involving several volunteer animal trapping groups.
Vanessa Mendez says they got their puppy Buddy when he was just a couple of weeks old. She described him as her first “baby” since she was pregnant when she had the dog.
Like most puppies, Buddy was playful, sassy, and full of energy. Vanessa admitted he needed an education and they worked on that as a family.
Buddy enjoyed chewing things around the house and the occasional “accident” in the bathroom.
When Vanessa and her husband were working on Buddy’s training, one of her roommates just had no patience for the dog.
ABC15 does not currently name the roommate as the charges against him are still under review by a Maricopa County grand jury.
Vanessa said the last straw for the man was one night she and her husband were with a friend.
“I think the last straw was Buddy going into his room and chewing on some of his things and peeing too,” Mendez said.
When the couple got home, they immediately noticed that Buddy did not run to the door as usual to greet them. The roommate was sitting in the living room and watching TV. When asked where Buddy was, Vanessa said the roommate stated he didn’t know and then said the dog went to her boyfriend’s house with the couple that night.
Mendez said they noticed a garden gate opened. The roommate seemed concerned and joined them looking for Buddy across the neighborhood that night.
Later, another roommate, who learned of Buddy’s disappearance, informed the couple that he had received a call from the roommate the night before stating that he would get rid of the dog by throwing it into the desert.
A surveillance video captured by a camera installed outside their home showed the roommate getting into a vehicle around 2 a.m. When the overhead lights came on, the silhouette of an animal could be seen in the vehicle.
When questioned by a Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy, the roommate later admitted to abandoning the dog in the desert about 50 kilometers away near Mile Post 4 and New River Road. The MP states that the temperature that day was 114 degrees.
Mendez said she couldn’t believe the man she had known for over a decade would do such a thing.
“I was absolutely speechless. At first I didn’t want to believe it,” she added.
She was heartbroken too. The couple, along with dozens of friends, family members, and Humane Animal Rescue and Trapping Team (HARTT) volunteers, have been searching the desert where the man claims the animal has been for more than three weeks.
The groups used drones, set up feeding stations and traps in the hopes that Buddy would stop by for something to eat or drink.
Traci Cook with HARTT said she still had hope that they could find Buddy.
“We’ve definitely found dogs for over a month. We’ve missed dogs and had no sightings or activity. Then three months later, we suddenly find the dogs,” Cook said.
She said Buddy would be in survival mode now if he was still out there. He might be nervous and shy when approaching people. In fact, it may not even recognize its owners at this point. The most effective way to get him home would be to track his movements and capture him human.
They ask anyone who sees Buddy not to chase him. The family offers a reward for Buddy returning safely.
He is described as a Catahoula / Anatolian Shephard mix with black, gray, and white colors. If you see Buddy please call or SMS at 480-510-4171 any time of the day or night.
You can also reach HARTT via social media by clicking here.