Deployed Soldier's Dog Euthanized after Sitter Gives it Up for Adoption

U.S. Navy petty officer Emily Valenzuela said when military life became too stressful, she would look at photos of her dog, Bert, to help get through tough times. The thought of returning to him was enough to keep her going. Which is why the California woman was devastated to return from deployment to learn that her dog was dead.

Valenzuela had left Bert with a cousin who promised to care for him in her absence. But her cousin gave the dog up for adoption just weeks after she was deployed.

UT San Diego reports:

Valenzuela’s cousin Christa, 32, said the dog was unruly, untrained and she had no way to contact Emily when she struggled to take care of Bert. So she admitted taking the dog to the county’s Department of Animal Services after Emily deployed.

On Tuesday, Emily discovered Bert had been euthanized in December. “It was definitely not the homecoming I was expecting to have,” she said.

Emily said she obtained Bert around April 2011 and brokered an arrangement to share an apartment with her cousin, so she could have much needed help. Emily allowed Christa to pay $200-$250 a month rent at first, they both said, a rate that was reduced to zero when she deployed in November.

A few weeks later, the dog was brought to the county’s Department of Animal Services.

“It was turned into us as a stray, with the person saying it had just wandered into their apartment,” spokesman Dan DeSousa said.

County employees euthanized Bert after a week in the shelter because they couldn’t handle him, DeSousa said. He admits that it was probably not the dog’s fault.

“The dog was probably fearful,” DeSousa said. “We understand that, but we just could not touch this dog at all.”

Nearly seven months later, Emily returned without any idea her dog was dead. She said Christa only told her during a phone conversation, while she was being driven home, that Bert had been put in a shelter to be adopted.

“I thought she was joking,” Emily said. “I seriously was in complete shock.”

In a recent interview, Christa defended her actions, saying there was no written agreement for her to take care of Bert. She said she was unprepared for the responsibility of caring for a dog, never having owned one herself.

She admits to feeling “a little bit” guilty about what happened. “I’m willing to help her find another dog if she wants another dog,” she said. “I thought she didn’t care about him.”







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638 comments

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    July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jerri

    That would be one dead cousin!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Brett

    Sue the sitter for murder.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Debbie

    Sue the cousin!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kimberley

    What?! Oh, how sad. :(

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lucile

    WTF, I would kill her.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Eve

    oh my god

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Gayle

    Euthanize the crap of a cousin !

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Heather

    That is unforgivable. Get rid of the cousin forever

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Preston

    That’s awful :(

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jean

    That is horrible on so many levels. That cousin should be shipped off to Afghanistan as a little “repayment”.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sean

    ditto

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
    James

    very sad story :’(

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Craig

    I’d euthanize my cousin

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Stan

    ????

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Ronda

    wrong on may levels!!!!!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lisa

    so tacky and rude and heartless, for both the owner and the dog

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Gena

    That cousin should be fined/jailed and THEN euthanized.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Twyla

    just terrible ;(

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Christine

    THAT’s just NOT right

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Angela

    I would be beyond furious!!!! that is unacceptable. I hope she gives the so called “cousin”. Hell

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Bruce

    sue thatperson….

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jackie

    Why???!!?!??? I will never ever forgive the cousin..I know two wrongs do not make a right…I literally will choke my cousin (sorry the anger coming out of me..I know i shouldn’t say it)..I will never speak to my cousin again!!!

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    D.j.

    it wouldnt be “attempted” murder. would be homicide

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Linda

    I had something similar to this happen to me……….no way can the punishment fit the crime of being an uncaring, selfish idiot.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Helen

    Being a vet tech, its never shocking how heartless humans are.

    Reply
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      July 7, 2012 7:53 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Meagan

      I know exactly what you mean. I experienced this on at least a monthly basis when I lived in Alabama. People would bring in a dog that belonged to their son/daughter/sister/brother/etc literally days after they were deployed or, in some cases, serving jail time. It was heartbreaking. And you can’t say anything, of course, but my heart always went out to the dog’s real owner. =(

      Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Colleen

    Low-Life Cuzin if you ask me! I am sure that there was other options!

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Janie

    Ridiculous. I an’t believe someone would do this to a soldier or a dog.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sandy

    So sad, thinking you were coming home to your pet… Can’t even trust your family…

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Christina

    That just brings tears to my eyes, how horrible

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sandrine

    Oh. My. God. Her cousins excuses at the end give me rage. That poor woman.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Annie

    Horrible story.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Liza

    Omg i will kill the cousin!!!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jan

    I hate to be the badass here, but this is why I wish people would never bring dogs into their homes unless they have a lifestyle and circumstances that they know will provide for a stable home, no matter what. Couples who have one half deployed can still keep the dog at home. When single people in the service get dogs, knowing they could face deployment, that is as iffy as when kids go away to college and live on their own for the first time ever and automatically get a dog. Guess how many of those dogs are displaced the following June?

    Reply
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      July 8, 2012 1:50 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Bev

      You have a good point but I’d still take out the cousin for agreeing to take care of the dog and than taking it to a kill shelter. She had other options if she couldn’t handle the dog like paying someone else to care for it since she was getting free rent for it.

      Reply
    • July 8, 2012 4:57 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Lis Carey

      She planned and made arrangements to provide for her dog, giving her cousin reduced and then free rent in exchange for caring for the dog while she was gone. The blame here lies with the cousin, not the soldier.

      There is no “no matter what” arrangement. Our local shelter, not too long ago, had a woman bring in a couple of cats she said were strays. They seemed awfully well cared for, for strays. A few days later, the (soon to be ex) husband reached that shelter on the list of shelters, animal controls, and vets’ offices that he was calling, trying to track down the family cats his (soon to be ex) wife had taken with her and then told him she’d dumped.

      Don’t blame the soldier for having been taken in by scum.

      Reply
    • July 8, 2012 6:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Nancy K. (and HERO)

      But Emily WAS responsible and DID make arrangements for the care of her dog. In fact, she in essence, paid her cousin $250 a month to take care of Bert ~ who was already sharing a house with her anyway! Nobody can control everything and I’d say that Emily did the best that anyone can. If you can’t trust family, who the hell CAN you trust???

      As far as kids going away to college ~ I agree, they are at GREAT risk of giving up any animal that they take on during the first few years. Does that mean that no college student should ever be allowed to own a dog or cat? I don’t think so. I believe that whomever they acquire the animal from owes it to the animals to have a very honest discussion with the young adult about what happens to surrendered animals and dogs listed on Craig’s list. Discuss the difficulties of having a pet ~ not just the fun aspects! Talk about what happens in the future when the student graduates, gets a job, moves, gets married. Make sure that they THINK about these things. At LEAST overnight. And make sure that the student knows the dog can come back to YOU if for any reason they can’t keep it. Or at the very least, advise them on the advantage of rescue over shelter. I always tell everyone that adopts a dog from my rescue that from the day they take that dog home, they are it’s FAMILY. It’s whole world. They need to think of it as a family member and treat it accordingly. If they can’t adapt that point of view, I do not place a dog with them. Period.

      Reply
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        July 14, 2012 12:07 amPosted 2 years ago
        Ray and Sunny Unseitig

        Well said.

        Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Tess

    That is disgusting. “A little bit guilty”, the stupid cow.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kristina

    HORRIBLE!!!!!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Catherine

    I’d try everything in my power to get the dog back :-)

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Karen

    i’d need to be kept far far away from anyone who did that. so so wrong

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Susan Tuttle

    Very angry!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Nicole

    omg that is horrible… speechless..

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Robin

    OMG! I don’t know what I would do? This is a terrible thing for this person to do…..what the hell was she/he thinking. I am so mad that I have to quit or I will just say something that I might requet later. But I would do something, I don’t know. Can’t bring the dog back no matter what you do…In in Gods hands, I guess…. so sad…

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    LuAnn

    OMGosh ~~ That’s Horrible !! :-(

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    David

    I’d be in the electric chair.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sue

    What a POS

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Heather

    Id kill her… Omg, I can’t even begin to imagine going through something like this.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Thomas

    id f**k that person up!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Marlene

    horrible!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Nivasi

    before or after I beat the snot out of her?

    Reply
  • Visit site
    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kathleen

    unbelievable!!! :(

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Bruce

    there is no excuse, because deployed soldiers can be contacted….. they have Internet access, phone service, etc…..

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Cindy

    What would I do? I can’t say it out loud. She will get hers one day…what goes around comes around!

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lorna

    Que pena! Como se atreven!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    John

    I wouldn’t have computer privileges right now if that had happened to me….

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Bill

    What a pal

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Karen

    ohhh:(

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Douglas

    It’s called Karma!!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Susan

    Heartbreaking!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Rob

    I would without question be in jail, because I would have to euthanize the cousin

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lorna

    Stupid heartless cow! Id kill him/her.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Anne

    Sue the crap out of the cousin for murder.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Patti

    Euthanize my cousin?

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Diane

    :( poor dog, why get a dog if you are going to be deployed for months at a time?

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Dobrila

    oh my god:((

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sue

    I would throw her out of my apartment….throw her stuff on the street….change the locks….

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Nanette

    Not sure exactly what I’d do, but I’d probably get in big trouble, whatever it was. I am appalled at the lack of caring. Absolutely disgusting.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Nil

    I’d punch that cousin in the face so hard it would break her nose. Then I’d get a lawyer and sue her for breach of contract and would take her for everything she had. THEN I’d take out a full page ad in the Sunday paper telling everyone my
    Story and I’d print her name. Then maybe I’d be done. Maybe.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Mary

    I’d want to beat her ass to a bloody pulp! Thats just so low…She should be put down, right beside that beloved dog

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Karen

    I would harbor hate for them the rest of my life.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Deborah

    wow, I can not believe they did that.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Raquel

    I will.. probably never forgive that!!! Just horrible :(

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    De

    what an idiot!!!!!!!! that relative would be @#!**#@!! they would run and hide from me if they knew what was good for them!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Samir

    Shoot my cousin

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Wade

    I think I’d be kickin my cousin’s ass !

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Rachel

    Oh. My. Lord…… Ungrateful little guttersnipe… I can’t imagine how horrible for the owner.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Stephanie

    what a horrible human being. the rest of the words i have to say arnet very nice except for i feel so sad for the soldier and her pup. if my dog & cat sitter gave up my animals before i get back from deployment there is gonna be massive hell to pay

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Gail

    bet the cousin in heap big trouble

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kimberley

    What the hell?? If she didn’t care about her dog SHE would have turned him in at a shelter. This cousin is a piece of work. :(

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Christin

    Her cousin is a complete heartless moron. This is absolutely infuriating. I babysat a German Shepard for a marine I didn’t even know. 8 months later when he came home guess who was waiting for his daddy? Yep the dog I promised to keep safe in his absence. We didn’t have anything signed. I didn’t know you needed to sign a piece of paper to ensure your dog doesn’t die a horrible scared death. This is infuriating and heartbreaking. So so so sorry for Emily’s loss. And you can’t just go get another dog like her cousin suggested. This isn’t like replacing your favorite shoes when the heels wear out. RIP Bert you didn’t deserve this.

    Reply
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      July 8, 2012 3:19 amPosted 2 years ago
      Anonymous

      thank you !!! I am so glad that you have proven that there are STILL good loving, caring, people in this world and that all of us are not “out for me and mine”…thank you for your act of love for the soldier and his/her beloved partner :)

      Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Penny

    They’d have to pry my hands from her neck.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Miranda

    euthanize the cousin

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Alonzo

    Some cousin that is. I’d have beaten her down for that.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    David

    What a C*nt!!

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Shaun

    my cousin would be hurting

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jeff

    a responsible, normal adult would have sought help from a shelter or Rescue on what she can do to eleviate the stress. I do not believe that she didnt agree to take care of the dog. What an awful awful human being.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jaqueline

    I just kill my cousin!!!!! that’s horrible! I can’t even imagine how to feel about that!

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Connie

    How very sad for Emily. Rest In Peace Bert.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jude

    That cousin is a horrible person! How can you possibly be that heartless?

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lozz

    I would break her arms and legs , when they healed …..I’d do it again

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Henry

    Ok bummed now.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Mel

    U call her Family? Poor dog :(

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Tammy

    :( I can’t imagine.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Norma

    all of the above

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Bill

    I honestly don’t think I’d rest until….I’d act as though I was not going to really do anything about it for quite a while…..my revenge would be slow, but extreme !

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Luci

    after reading the article, it appears the cousin in charge of the dog is pretty cold about the whole ordeal. You simply don’t do that, PERIOD. Bert’s mum left him in what she thought was good hands, to find out he’d been put to sleep is simply unfathomable. I was appalled at reading this article by the callousness of the cousin. If it were one of my babies, I’m not sure the cousin would be able to talk just yet with a swollen jaw. She feels a “little guilty”, seriously? Soul less.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jane

    why the hell are people clicking that they “like” this story?

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lynnette

    I would be asking friends and family for bail money. This is not a new thing, though. Spouses have been known to dump their deployed soldier’s dog or cat at “the pound” within hours or days of the soldier leaving. It sucks. Truly.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Laura

    I would have probably gotten into a bit of a fight! Then I’d take her to court for everything she’s worth, she lived in that girls apartment (rent free might I add for taking care of the dog), then I’d put up a billboard nearby where ever she is living with her photo and what she did. I’d also probably let the family know exactly what she did and not be upset if none of them ever spoke to her again.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Judy

    There are no words to describe the injustice that has been done here

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Shane

    Cousin’s a bitch, period.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Candi

    All of the above.

    Reply
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    July 7, 2012 12:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Mimi

    Get a really good lawyer????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Reply

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