A deaf 11-year-old mini Yorkie apparently taken by dognappers demanding $1,000 from his owners was dropped off by someone in a white car near his owner's home on Saturday, the dog's owner told NBC4 News.
Someone speeding by in a white car with tinted windows dropped off the dog named Walter. A woman walking her dog in the neighborhood noticed the Yorkie, checked his dog tag and called the owner, Tricia O’Kelley.
Walter, who weighs about 5 pounds, hadn't been seen since Thursday afternoon in the family’s fenced-in backyard along Los Feliz Boulevard in the Griffith Park area.
A blocked number called O’Kelley’s cellphone, which is listed on Walter’s tags, about 10:15 p.m. Thursday.
The man on the other end of the line told O’Kelley he wants $1,000 for the dog’s safe return. O’Kelley said she heard another man laughing in the background.
Her husband took over negotiations. The dognapper said he’d call back and hung up.
Within minutes, the blocked number called back and this time, O’Kelley’s husband, Adam Rosenblatt, put the call on speaker so the police on a second phone could hear.
The dognapper laid out his demands.
He wanted the family to create phony fliers offering a $1,000 reward for Walter’s return and listed streets on which he wanted them posted. Then, he would bring one of those posters to a Chevron station on Western and Franklin avenues where he would exchange the dog for the cash.
Police suggested they make the fliers and meet the men at the gas station with a plain-clothed officer.
O’Kelley’s husband was in the process of hanging up the fliers when the man called back, saying he’d been lied to and that police were at the gas station.
“He said, ‘Don’t lie to me. I’m keeping your dog,’” O’Kelley said.
That last phone call at 11:15 p.m. Thursday came from a 7-Eleven payphone in North Hollywood, O’Kelley said. And that was the last time she heard from whoever has Walter.
Walter has a condition that causes his trachea to collapse, which is common for his breed.
Walter was outfitted with tags and has a microchip.