PANORAMA CITY (CBSLA.com) — A Panorama City mom is fighting to get her 4-year-old son’s puppy back after a rescue organization allowed the dog, which went missing but was later found, to be adopted by another family.
The puppy in question, a 7-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback female named Raffiki, disappeared from Rosa Torres’ Panorama City backyard on Feb. 13.
“We have no idea how she got out of the house,” Torres said.
Raffiki, which Torres planned to get microchipped three days before the incident, was apparently turned in at the West Valley Animal Shelter in Chatsworth without any identification.
Torres put up signs and checked the East Valley shelter in Van Nuys, which serves her neighborhood.
A volunteer eventually found Raffiki online at Karma Rescue, which received an adoption application for the dog.
Torres said by the time Karma Rescue responded to her phone calls, it found the puppy a new home.
“She’s not a dog for us. She’s not just a pet. She’s a family member. She’s my daughter. She’s my son’s best friend,” Torres said.
The rescue group apparently told Torres to apply to adopt the dog, as well. Torres, however, was turned down. She believes she was rejected because she lives in a “bad part of town” and because Raffiki wasn’t microchipped, spayed or wearing tags when she was found, according to an online petition.
“How do I explain it to my son, you know? ‘I’m sorry, but a rescue doesn’t want to help us get your dog back,’” Torres said.
Attorney Marla Tauscher, who has had cases involving similar situations, said she may go after Karma Rescue legally, but hopes to find some way for Torres to be reunited with the puppy.
“She had been checking at East Valley in Van Nuys, the closest shelter to her house,” Tauscher said. “How hard would it have been for one person, anybody, at East Valley to say, ‘Hey, by the way, did you know we have another facility?’”
Meantime, Raffiki’s name was changed to Kami, and her new owners, who legally own the dog, said they won’t give her back.
Torres said she’s willing to pay the new owners to get Raffiki.
“We just want her back home,” she said.
In a statement, Karma Rescue’s Rande Levin said, “We regret any pain that these events have caused. We will continue to advocate tirelessly on behalf of the animals of our city and the people who love them.”