They were getting off the bus at 79th street and Biscayne Boulevard when they spotted the little dog.
Omar Cuervo: “She tells me, ‘Oh look, there is a dog down here. Don’t get near it. It’s a dog, it might — it’s a wild dog, it might bite you.'”
This little Shih Tzu with one blue eye was the dog Omar and his wife saw.
Omar Cuervo: “It didn’t have a collar on it. It’s significantly small and very skinny.”
Worried the dog would get hit by a car on the busy street, Omar’s wife took it home.
Omar Cuervo: “She said, ‘I fed it; it was very, very hungry.”
Omar says they then went to work to find the dog’s owner.
Omar Cuervo: “We put signs up on 79th and Biscayne where I found her. We put up signs all over.”
Omar lives two miles from where he found the dog. He says he even went around his neighborhood asking if anyone owned this unusual Shih Tzu.
Omar Cuervo: “I asked all the dog walkers that were walking around there, people who walk their dogs, ‘Do you know this dog? Do you recognize this dog?'”
No one claimed him, and Omar says his kids clearly wanted to keep the dog they named Tequila.
Omar Cuervo: “She makes my kids laugh. My daughter, who suffers from ADD, actually has been behaving a lot better ever since the dog has been here in her life.”
Omar took the dog to the Humane Society, paid to get its shots, a chip implanted, and to get it neutered. Then a month later, while walking Tequila, a woman ran up to him.
Omar Cuervo: “[She] says, ‘That’s my dog,’ claims that’s their dog. ‘I have the right to have the dog. Can you give me my dog?’ Yelling at me to take the dog away. I’m like, ‘Miss, I adopted this dog.'”
The woman, who lived about a few blocks from Cuervo, said she had bought the dog and named it Dolly. The police were called. They told Omar it was a civil matter and a judge could force him to give the dog to the woman. Omar was dumbfounded.
Omar Cuervo: “I think that if she would have done the proper job as an owner, the dog would be still in her possession.”
Omar told the officer he adopted the dog and wouldn’t give him up without a fight, because of what it would do to his kids.
Omar Cuervo: “That we are going to lose someone that is a family member, for the owner not being responsible, and we wouldn’t be heartbroken right now that we might end up losing her.”
Well, Howard, the woman says she bought the dog, but after Omar paid to get all its shots, he says it’s his dog, so legally, who wins this dog fight?
Howard Finkelstein: “Legally, this is a close call. There are good arguments on both sides, and no case like this has been decided in Florida. If a judge had to rule on this, they might force Omar to return the dog and force the original owner to pay Omar for all of the money he has spent to care for the dog.”
Yaralda Ledesma: “Because my dog was special.”
We then spoke to Yaralda Ledesma, who says the dog ran out her front door and she couldn’t find it, that she said she paid $800 for the Shih Tzu and was going to use it for breeding.
Yaralda Ledesma: “I don’t want the dog back because he had her spayed. I wanted my dog to breed. I walk around the house, she never leaves me.”
Instead of getting the dog back, Yaralda wants Omar to buy her a new Shih Tzu. He doesn’t have the money to do that. She doesn’t have the money to sue him, meaning he will probably be able to keep the dog.
And if you are wondering why the Cuervo family named the dog Tequila, it’s pretty simple.
Omar Cuervo: “The first thing that name across my head was what would match the name to my last name. ‘Tequila,’ and she answered right away to it.”
Clever name. Now, if you find a stray, the ideal way to handle it is to take it to the county run animal shelter. They put the animal on a national database, and the owner who lost the animal can also come by to check to see if it’s there. If the animal is not claimed within five days, you can go adopt it. And by the way, if you want to look at that national database for lost animals, it’s called Pet Harbor.
Rough troubles left you howling? Lost and can’t find a solution? Contact us. We don’t bite, we don’t bark, but we can fetch an answer for you. Those are bad. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
National Database for Lost Pets