SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. - Neighbors in a San Tan Valley neighborhood suspect a neighbor could be stealing and hiding their dogs on her property in a trailer in the front yard.
Carlee Todd's 4-year-old Boston Terrier, Snoop, disappeared from her backyard back in June.
“We heard Piper (their other dog) start barking ferociously over at the side fence,” Todd said, “We went out there and Snoop was gone.”
The family began a frantic search, posting signs and alerting neighbors that Snoop was missing.
While her gut instinct told her he’d been stolen, Todd had no way of proving that.
“It's just sad my little girl who's 7 years old would cry hysterically to sleep," she said. "Like, couldn't breathe -- it was heartbreaking."
Four months passed with no sign of Snoop.
That was until Saturday.
A family member saw a dog he believed to be Snoop at a house around the corner.
Todd says she knew the homeowner as a woman who groomed neighborhood pets, including one of her dogs in the past.
When Todd went to ask about the dog, she says the woman refused to let her see it.
Todd was persistent and when asked if the dog was the family's missing Boston Terrier, she says the woman wouldn't budge.
“These were her words,” Todd told 12 News, “'Well, yeah, but I've been boarding him for three months and I'm not giving him back.'”
Words were exchanged and a Pinal County sheriff's deputy was called out.
Todd says the deputy who responded told her it was out of his hands; she'd have to take the woman to court.
In the deputy's report, obtained by 12 News, he calls it a civil matter.
“Even if I have his papers, pictures of him, other evidence,” Todd says she asked the deputy.
She says he told her it was something a judge would have to determine.
Watching everything unfold that night was Kelly, who asked to only be identified by her first name. She’s also lives in the area and has a missing dog.
“He was an American English bulldog,” Kelly told 12 News.
She still gets emotional talking about Bowser, who disappeared two years ago.
Back then she says a neighbor told her she saw who grabbed him.
“Just kind of scooped him up and took him,” she said.
She always thought Bowser could still be in the area but didn’t know how to investigate it.
“Dogs aren't always people's pets their family members,” she said.
We did try and speak with someone at the home where the trailer is located but nobody answered.
According to the sheriff's report the woman who lives there told the deputy she'd had the dog for four months. She also questioned why the family hadn't seen it before and was just now claiming it was theirs because she claimed to have taken it outside.
In the report, however, she never directly denies it could be their dog.
Neighbors told us while they can hear dogs barking on the woman's property, they are rarely seen outside.
They also believe the fact that the woman grooms pets out of her home, allows her to fly under the radar when it comes to complaints or questions about the dogs on her property.
Todd has no plans to give up.
“We are determined to get Snoop back," she said. "We will get Snoop back."
12 News reached out to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department to find out why the case was considered civil and wasn't investigated as property theft.
A spokesperson told us they needed to check with the deputy who responded and would get back to us.
Pets are considered property under Arizona state law.
Statutes also state that knowingly keeping someone’s property without making a reasonable effort to return it to them is considered theft.
Pinal County Animal Control is also investigating the property due to complaints that animals on the property were not being kept in proper conditions.
A spokesperson told us they would get back to us after the claims were investigated.