Case dismissed against woman cited for keeping lost pet

An Albuquerque woman thought she was doing the right thing by bringing home a lost dog. But she refused to give it back to its owner, and she ended up charged with a crime.

Animal Welfare officers said it’s not often they cite someone for keeping a lost pet, but it happens—and this case wound up in front of a judge.

“And we saw this dog limping,” said Teresa Smith.

Smith lives close by the Petroglyphs on the west side. Back in March, something in the desert caught her eye.

“When I picked him up, he was very matted, full of stickers, his little toenails had rolled over, so he couldn’t walk,” said Smith.

She rushed the poodle mix to this animal hospital, the staff said off camera they remember the dog, confirming it was in bad shape. As protocol, the vet checked for a microchip, which the dog had. It’s name popped up as ‘Foxy’ and its owners lived close by.

“They called the owner with no answer,” recalled Smith. “I said I would be happy to take the dog, and they said they have to call Animal Control because it’s in such bad condition. I said, ‘Fine, perfect.’ So the owner never called back, so they released the dog to me.”

Soon after, Smith got a phone call from Animal Welfare saying she needed to give Foxy to them, so they could return it to the original owners, who discovered their dog was found, but Smith hesitated.

“I just didn’t want them to pick up the dog and give it back without any consequences to the owner,” said Smith.

Smith said she only kept the dog for a night before it went back to its home with an understanding from the family she could check on the dog’s well-being from time to time. However, shortly after, Smith was blindsided with a notice from court, saying she was charged with a petty misdemeanor for not returning a lost or found pet. Smith believes she was wrongly accused.

“Now this is going to be on my record for life, and I just don’t want that stigma when I was just trying to be a Good Samaritan and do the right thing,” said Smith.

According to court records, the case was dismissed during the trial. Smith adds that she has since seen Foxy out on walks and it looks happy and in good condition, but she wished that the owners got some sort of slap on the wrist. KRQE News 13 also reached out to the dog’s original owners, but never heard back.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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