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.”


  1. Jerri says on  07/07/2012 at 12:05 pm

    That would be one dead cousin!

  2. Brett says on  07/07/2012 at 12:05 pm

    Sue the sitter for murder.

  3. Debbie says on  07/07/2012 at 12:05 pm

    Sue the cousin!

  4. Kimberley says on  07/07/2012 at 12:05 pm

    What?! Oh, how sad. :(

  5. WTF, I would kill her.

  6. Eve says on  07/07/2012 at 12:05 pm

    oh my god

  7. Gayle says on  07/07/2012 at 12:05 pm

    Euthanize the crap of a cousin !

  8. That is unforgivable. Get rid of the cousin forever

  9. That’s awful :(

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

  11. ditto

  12. very sad story :'(

  13. Craig says on  07/07/2012 at 12:06 pm

    I’d euthanize my cousin

  14. Stan says on  07/07/2012 at 12:06 pm


  15. Ronda says on  07/07/2012 at 12:06 pm

    wrong on may levels!!!!!

  16. Lisa says on  07/07/2012 at 12:06 pm

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

  17. That cousin should be fined/jailed and THEN euthanized.

  18. Twyla says on  07/07/2012 at 12:06 pm

    just terrible ;(

  19. Christine says on  07/07/2012 at 12:06 pm

    THAT’s just NOT right

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

  21. sue thatperson….

  22. 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!!!

  23. it wouldnt be “attempted” murder. would be homicide

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

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

    • Meagan says on  07/07/2012 at 7:53 pm

      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. =(

  26. Colleen says on  07/07/2012 at 12:07 pm

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

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

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

  29. Christina says on  07/07/2012 at 12:07 pm

    That just brings tears to my eyes, how horrible

  30. Sandrine says on  07/07/2012 at 12:07 pm

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

  31. Annie says on  07/07/2012 at 12:07 pm

    Horrible story.

  32. Omg i will kill the cousin!!!

  33. Jan says on  07/07/2012 at 12:07 pm

    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?

    • Bev says on  07/08/2012 at 1:50 pm

      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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

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

  35. HORRIBLE!!!!!

  36. Catherine says on  07/07/2012 at 12:07 pm

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

  37. Karen says on  07/07/2012 at 12:07 pm

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

  38. Very angry!

  39. Nicole says on  07/07/2012 at 12:07 pm

    omg that is horrible… speechless..

  40. Robin says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm

    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…

  41. LuAnn says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm

    OMGosh ~~ That’s Horrible !! :-(

  42. I’d be in the electric chair.

  43. Sue says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm

    What a POS

  44. Heather says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm

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

  45. Thomas says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm

    id f**k that person up!

  46. Marlene says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm


  47. Nivasi says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm

    before or after I beat the snot out of her?

  48. Kathleen says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm

    unbelievable!!! :(

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

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

  51. Que pena! Como se atreven!

  52. John says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm

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

  53. What a pal

  54. Karen says on  07/07/2012 at 12:08 pm


  55. Douglas says on  07/07/2012 at 12:09 pm

    It’s called Karma!!

  56. Susan says on  07/07/2012 at 12:09 pm


  57. Rob says on  07/07/2012 at 12:09 pm

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

  58. Lorna says on  07/07/2012 at 12:09 pm

    Stupid heartless cow! Id kill him/her.

  59. Anne says on  07/07/2012 at 12:09 pm

    Sue the crap out of the cousin for murder.

  60. Patti says on  07/07/2012 at 12:09 pm

    Euthanize my cousin?

  61. Diane says on  07/07/2012 at 12:09 pm

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

  62. Dobrila says on  07/07/2012 at 12:09 pm

    oh my god:((

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

  64. Nanette says on  07/07/2012 at 12:09 pm

    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.

  65. Nil says on  07/07/2012 at 12:10 pm

    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.

  66. Mary says on  07/07/2012 at 12:10 pm

    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

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

  68. wow, I can not believe they did that.

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

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

  71. Samir says on  07/07/2012 at 12:10 pm

    Shoot my cousin

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

  73. Rachel says on  07/07/2012 at 12:10 pm

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

  74. Stephanie says on  07/07/2012 at 12:10 pm

    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

  75. bet the cousin in heap big trouble

  76. 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. :(

  77. Christin says on  07/07/2012 at 12:10 pm

    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.

    • Anonymous says on  07/08/2012 at 3:19 am

      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 :)

  78. Penny says on  07/07/2012 at 12:10 pm

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

  79. Miranda says on  07/07/2012 at 12:10 pm

    euthanize the cousin

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

  81. David says on  07/07/2012 at 12:11 pm

    What a C*nt!!

  82. Shaun says on  07/07/2012 at 12:11 pm

    my cousin would be hurting

  83. Jeff says on  07/07/2012 at 12:11 pm

    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.

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

  85. How very sad for Emily. Rest In Peace Bert.

  86. Jude says on  07/07/2012 at 12:11 pm

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

  87. Lozz says on  07/07/2012 at 12:11 pm

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

  88. Ok bummed now.

  89. U call her Family? Poor dog :(

  90. Tammy says on  07/07/2012 at 12:12 pm

    :( I can’t imagine.

  91. all of the above

  92. 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… revenge would be slow, but extreme !

  93. Luci says on  07/07/2012 at 12:12 pm

    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.

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

  95. Lynnette says on  07/07/2012 at 12:12 pm

    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.

  96. 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.

  97. Judy says on  07/07/2012 at 12:12 pm

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

  98. Cousin’s a bitch, period.

  99. All of the above.

  100. Mimi says on  07/07/2012 at 12:12 pm

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

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