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Man facing possible charges after abandoning roommate's puppy in the desert

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Posted at 12:22 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 15:30:57-04

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KNXV) — Puppies can be a handful, but one Phoenix couple says their roommate went too far when he admitted to dumping their puppy out in the desert after getting frustrated with the dog.

The allegation has led to a massive dog hunt out in the desert, with multiple animal trapping group volunteers involved.

Vanessa Mendez says they got their puppy Buddy when he was just a few weeks old. She described him as her first 'baby' as she was pregnant when she got the dog.

Like most pups, Buddy was playful, naughty and full of energy. Vanessa admitted he needed training, and that was something they were working on as a family.

Buddy liked to chew items in the home and occasionally had a bathroom "accident" inside.

As Vanessa and her husband worked on training Buddy, one of their roommates just did not have any patience for the dog.

The roommate is not being named at this time, as charges against him are pending review by a Maricopa County grand jury.

Vanessa said the last straw for the man was a night when she and her husband were away at a friend's place.

"I think the last straw was Buddy going inside of his room and chewing on some of his things and also peeing," said Mendez.

When the couple got home, they immediately noticed Buddy did not run to the door to greet them as usual. The roommate was lounging in the living room watching television. When asked where Buddy was, Vanessa said the roommate indicated he did not know, then said he thought the dog had gone with the couple to their friend's home that night.

Mendez said they noticed a backyard gate open. The roommate appeared to show concern and joined them in searching for Buddy throughout the neighborhood that night.

Later another roommate who learned of Buddy's disappearance informed the couple that he had received a call from the roommate the previous night, stating he was getting rid of the dog by dumping him out in the desert.

Surveillance video captured by a camera installed outside their home showed the roommate getting into a vehicle at about 2 a.m. When the dome light turned on, the silhouette of an animal was visible inside the vehicle.

Upon questioning by a Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy, the roommate later admitted to abandoning the dog in the desert about 30 miles away, near Mile Post 4 and New River Road. The deputy states the temperature was 114 degrees that day.

Mendez said she could not believe the man she had known for over a decade would do something like that.

"I was absolutely speechless. At first, I did not want to believe it," she added.

She was also heartbroken. The couple, along with dozens of friends, family members and volunteers from the Humane Animal Rescue and Trapping Team (HARTT) have been searching in the desert area where the man claims to have abandoned the animal for more than three weeks now.

The groups have used drones, they have set up feeding stations and traps, hoping Buddy might stop by for some food or water.

Traci Cook with HARTT said she still has hope that they could find Buddy.

"We have for sure found dogs beyond a month. We've had dogs go missing and had no sightings and no activity. Then all of a sudden, three months later, you know, we find the dogs," said Cook.

She said Buddy would be in survival mode by now if he was still out there. He might be nervous and skittish about approaching humans. In fact, he may not even recognize his owners at this point. The most effective way to get him home would be to track his movements and trap him humanely.

They are asking anyone who sees Buddy not to chase him. The family is offering a reward for the safe return of Buddy.

He is described as a Catahoula/Anatolian Shephard Mix, with black, grey and white colors. If you see Buddy please call or text 480-510-4171 at any time of the day or night.

You can also reach out to HARTT via social media by clicking here.