Most Recent Possible Sightings

Confirmed Sighting: May 9 2012, north Chevy Chase. [2011]December 11, neighborhood outside Colombia Country Club. October 20, Colombia Country Club. September 14, Candy Cane City and into Rock Creek Park. September 7 or 8, Brookville and Shepherd in Chevy Chase, and then back south on Connecticut to Chevy Chase circle (where she is getting water, we believe). August 28th, on Thornapple in Chevy Chase, and then headed south on Connecticut!

(For other sightings, see archive at the bottom of the page.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Scam or Real Lead? What would you do? Dog for Sale Georgia NW and Colombia (maybe Park?)

A gentleman called yesterday to say that he believed his neighbor had our dog, and was trying to sell her.

When we asked where we could find the seller, the gentleman stated his reluctance to give the seller's name/information because he didn't want to be perceived as a snitch.  We told him there was a reward for information leading to Sassafras' safe return.  He stated he didn't want a reward, and said he would call back again yesterday. He gave a location of Georgia NW and Colombia NW.

He didn't call back yesterday, but did this morning at 11AM saying he had meant to call yesterday but had been busy. He did inform us that he had gone to the house again last night just to check that the beagle was still there. He said the beagle was still there (kept in the basement, not outside, and being well treated). He told the person keeping the dog nothing about us, he said. We said the earliest we could get over to meet him  to be shown where the house was would be 3PM and he said to call him back at 2PM with our plans.

We called him back again at 2PM at which point he told us how he was an animal person (always had cats) and was 100% sure that the dog was Sassafras. We told him we were skeptical about this situation, to which he said we should always be careful. We told him we could be there at 4PM, which he said was fine... to meet at Colombia and Georgia. We asked for more details, and at some point he asked how big the reward was. We gave an impressive number, to which he immediately said "oh no, I wouldn't want that." But, what would be helpful to him was $35-40 to fix the fan in his car. We said if he didn't want to be a seen as a snitch he could just tell us the address and we'd be happy to pay him the $35-40 after we checked it out. He said we'd have to meet him and he'd take us directly to the house, but didn't want it to be known the he'd brought us there. Later he said we could just give him $20 and he'd take us to the house under the same conditions and that if it wasn't our dog we could get the money back (at which point he said he lived only 3 houses down from the house with the dog). He still refused to give an address but when asked pointedly about which street he lived on, he said Park.

We asked why he wouldn't give us the address and he said if he did then he wouldn't get anything out of it... we'd just walk away without paying. Despite trying to assure him otherwise, he still refused to give an address and just said to call at 4PM if we were meeting him at Georgia and Colombia. Whether we met him or not, he said he would take down one of the flyers in the area and give it to the person with the dog (who could, in theory, then contact us directly).

We have received many calls in the past from people who tell us a neighbor has the dog, and calls about unknown people selling dogs, but never one offering to take us to the seller. We also have doubts that Sass would allow herself to be captured by a stranger (see our FAQs).

So, what would you do?
1) Meet him
2) Put up flyers in the area
3) Call the police
4) Let it be
5) ???


  1. I would call the police, or meet up with him with a group of volunteers. There's too much curious about this to go it alone -- I suppose I can understand the desire to not out oneself to a neighbor, but it seems like this could be a small-time scam to get a few bucks from you.

    In particular, the way he's talked to you about money is suspicious. He turns down whatever your reward figure is because it's too much -- or if it's a scam, he's turning it down because it would be big enough for you to pursue him, perhaps for criminal charges. To then only need $35-40, and then ask for only $20, is really odd -- like he's bargaining with you.

    Top that all off with an offer to give the neighbor your flyer is awful -- why would this person bargain like that, only to then offer a service free of charge? That said, this is the EXACT reason you should follow-up in some manner, whether with the police or others. If this is a scam, I wonder if the follow-up would then be for the "neighbor" to contact you and demand more.

    Whatever this is, I think you should investigate it (safely, of course) so that you can squash it now -- if only for the sake of your peace of mind.

    I dearly, dearly hope it's Sass, but always come at situations like these cautiously. You're going about it the right way by soliciting advice -- don't be afraid to call on others to help.

  2. Also, did this person reveal how he discovered that Sass was allegedly being sold? If there's signage, that's definitely something worth investigating whether or not you meet him. If it's on the web, you should be able to do some searching.

  3. I mapquested Georgia Avenue and Columbia Rd. NW. I then zoomed in twice. I would go over on my own, and see if you see anyone, and ask questions and possibly put up a flyer. Or I might ask the police what their advice would be. This guys sounds a little sketchy. Good luck, I have been following your story, and hoping for a happy ending. Jenny or

  4. Also, can the tracker dog possibly be taken to that area? There seems to be a Park nearby, maybe a scent can be picked up to help you be more sure.
    (Bruce Monroe Community Park) don't know this area, but saw it when I mapquested... Good luck.

  5. @John, he knew the neighbor was selling the dog just because he stopped and chatted with him, not because this fellow has a sign up, etc.

    @Jenny, the tracking dog could be brought in, but when we don't have an exact spot where Sass was standing, it's less than ideal in that it leaves us trying to prove a negative. Would that time and money be better spent in another way?

    We'll let everyone know what we did in a day or so, and how it turns out! We wanted to hear some different perspectives!

  6. I love dogs, and have always considered it strange that they are considered property, but it seems in this case it may help.

    In other words, a man called and told you he has seen your stolen property.

    I suspect it's illegal to either make that claim falsely, or worse to harbor information about a known criminal.

    Perhaps a stern call back informing him that you would like the address, or you will turn his phone number over to the police may be enough for him to give you the address, or end the scam.

    Another though would be to do a reverse lookup on his phone number if you have it from caller ID.

  7. The whole thing sounds strange and a quick way to get $20 to $40 or so. That said, I would definitely involve the police for your own safety and peace of mind. They can go with you or meet the man face to face. Also, with respect to the idea of getting a tracker to help on this matter, there is a group based in Maryland that will track your dog at no cost - their mission is to help people with lost dogs. I believe I posted a link to the group in an earlier comment awhile ago. You might want to check them out. Good luck!

  8. I don't think I'd just be able to let it go, then there'd always be the what-ifs. If you already have a good relationship going with the police then that might be a good option, if not then at least go with a group of people who would be there to back you up. Sounds suspicious, but you never know.

    I also checked and there's a Park Rd NW that intersects Georgia, just a few small blocks up from Columbia, and it is residential...

  9. @Brett - Good thought on legality... Re: reverse look up, sadly does not help here.

    @Darren - Yes, we have Dogs finding Dogs in our list (thank you)... We'd need a better location from which to start the track, unfortunately.

    @Trying to get started - You've well captured the dilemma of the "what if" and why we often lose sleep over this (and other leads).

    More soon on what's happening...

  10. I would have to check it out, I'd inform the police and ask for their advice. Just be careful and go during daytime with someone and let others know where you are going. Maybe check in at the address on facebook or something.

    For $20, I'd give it to him. It might not be a con and he may be worried about retaliation, esp if police involvement. The location makes sense to me if she was traveling through the park. We will share again on the DC lost dogs page.

    Also could tell him to let the person know about the reward, if trying to sell, maybe he'd rather have a reward?