What started off as the heartfelt story about a man whose dog was impounded and who was able to retrieve him thanks to the money raised through the spread of a viral photo snapped by a California woman has taken and unexpected turn as he now threatens to sue her.
The pit bull mix, Buzz, was taken to an animal shelter in San Bernardino, Calif., after his owner Dave Thomas was arrested last week and there was no one to care for the dog. After Thomas was released, he visited the shelter and sat heartbroken by Buzz's cage, because he didn't have the $400 it was estimated to release the dog.
Thomas with his dog Buzz when he was still impounded. (Photo: Maria Sanchez/Facebook)
That's when Maria Sanchez of Riverside, Calif., who visits the shelter regularly to take pictures of the dogs, snapped a photo that would eventually go viral on Facebook and raise funds enough to help Thomas get Buzz back.
Thomas was so happy he kissed Sanchez's feet on video to express his gratitude.
Of the more than $2,000 that was raised, Thomas told the San Bernardino Sun, “I believe it’s for my dog and not me.”
Thomas was able to take Buzz home this week, after he was neutered. But shortly after the happy homecoming, things seem to have turned sour between Sanchez and Thomas.
On Facebook, Sanchez posted that she had received a call from the local news station, letting her know that Thomas had told them she was keeping his donations.
Here's how Sanchez explained it:
I have transferred $842.07 into my bank to reimburse myself for the shelter fees, vet and PetSmart shopping spree that I put onto my personal credit card. I had a discussion regarding the remainder of the donations and how he would like to spend them.
I said it would be a good idea to pay off any outstanding tickets so that he will not be taken to jail in the future for having a warrant for unpaid traffic tickets. I asked if he had any bills that were due at the time. I told him that every dime that was donated would go to him and Buzz, but that I would not be giving him the cash. I explained to him that the money that was donated was a blessing for him, I wanted to be sure that we respected that and used the donations responsibly. He sat next to me and nodded his head. Not one response, question or concern.
After I hung up with KTLA channel 5, I tried to call Dave. His wife would not let me speak to him. She screamed at me that I was stealing their dog’s money. She said they have called the news stations and that if I did not give them their money, they were going to call the police.
Sanchez continued, writing that -- given this latest development -- she would not give Thomas any of the leftover money but would be refunding it.
"I have had my life and the lives of my children devastated by drug addiction. I will play no part in supporting anyone’s habit," Sanchez wrote.
She is, of course, referring to Thomas' arrest last week. The San Bernardino Sun reported Police Lt. Paul Williams saying Thomas was arrested for suspected possession of drugs for sale. Thomas was found to have marijuana upon his arrest, but the Sun reported he had papers to show he was a medical marijuana patient.
Sanchez then posted a voicemail on YouTube she had recorded from Thomas responding to her Facebook post where he accused her of slander, embezzlement, and grand larceny.
"You are dead wrong," Thomas said in the voicemail. "I will be getting in touch with a lawyer."
In the voicemail, which we should note cannot be verified if it is officially Thomas, he says he is clean from drugs.
"I'll test it for these cops again to prove," Thomas said. "Enjoy."
Watch the clip:
As Sanchez put it in her Facebook post, "No good deed goes unpunished, right?"