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Pet owner's worst nightmare continues as his dog is held for ransom

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Posted at 7:21 PM, Jun 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-07 20:21:08-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — They say a dog is a man’s best friend, but what happens when that dog goes missing? What started as a dog breaking free from her harness quickly turned into a case that both Corpus Christi Police (CCPD) and Animal Care Services are looking into.

Kenneth Penna is from Annaville. He had his dog Lucy for about a year, making long-lasting memories with her. He would normally take her out at night to the front yard, but last Wednesday, she managed to break out of her harness, never to be seen again.

Penna searched all night for Lucy but had no luck. The next morning, he woke up to a text from an unknown number. That text included a video of a dog Penna believes to be Lucy being hit. He also received images that show a dog with electrical tape wrapped around the dog's mouth. The text demanded $250 via CahsApp in exchange for his dog back.

"Then they just stopped talking to me after that. I didn’t send the money, but they would no longer communicate with me. From that point on, there’s been no communication," Penna said.

He filed a police report and hasn’t heard anything back from the number that demanded the money since the incident.

CCPD said this case has been assigned to a detective for potential theft and that people should be cautious when receiving messages such as the ones Penna got.

"You never know. It could be a scam. It might not be his dog. You just don’t know. Is he paying the right person? he did the right thing in contacting us first. That way, we can look into it," CCPD Lieutenant Michael Pena said.

Animal Care is also investigating allegations of animal cruelty. Both CCPD and Animal Care said there have been many instances in which both departments investigated the same incident separately.

"If somebody is actively inflicting animal cruelty or harming an animal, that’s not going to be a joking matter. If you’re doing it, we're going to find you and hold you accountable, and if you need charges, we are going to file charges on you," Animal Care Services Program Manager Joel Skidmore said.

Penna has not given up on finding his Lucy, despite the lack of communication.

"I haven’t lost hope with it at all, but the longer it goes without any communication from anybody the lower it gets," Penna said. "She was still young, had a lot to learn and she was real excited. She was a good dog."

CCPD and Animal Care are warning people to watch out for individuals who promise to return an animal if provided with money or gift cards. If someone has any information about Lucy, call detectives at (361) 886-2840.

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