Dave Thomas, San Bernardino Man, Gets Dog Back After Stranger Takes
Heartbreaking Photo At Animal Shelter
The next time you catch yourself crying on a street corner, just hope that Maria
Sanchez is taking clandestine photos of you.
Last week, Dave Thomas, a San Bernardino man, was briefly jailed for failure to
appear in court for traffic violations, leading to the impoundment of his dog on
Upon release, Buzz Lightyear, a 2-year-old pit bull mix, was waiting for him at
the San Bernardino City Animal Shelter. But Thomas couldn't pay the $400 to
get his pet back, KABC reported.
Just as Thomas found out he couldn't get his dog back, Maria Sanchez, a
photographer at the shelter who happened to be watching, captured the scene
"He was pouring water into his dog's water bowl, his dog sat there and licked up
the water for about a minute, he sat down next to him and started weeping,"
Sanchez told KABC.
She posted the photo to Facebook, where strangers pledged to help the man.
Since Thomas hadn't left a phone number or a name at the facility, Sanchez
needed to identify him before she could reach out.
She made phone calls and posted calls for help online. She drove around town
posting flyers. She received a traffic ticket and had her car sideswiped.
All the while, donations poured in. On Monday night, KABC identified Thomas
and put him in touch with Sanchez, who told him the cost of getting Buzz back
"God bless you darling," he said over the phone.
UPDATE: Dave Thomas is now allegedly threatening to sue Sanchez. Read the
rest of the story here.
A California man reunited with his beloved dog after a photo of the two was
posted to Facebook is now allegedly threatening to sue the Good Samaritan
who helped him, KTLA reports.
Dave Thomas of San Bernardino, Calif., was briefly jailed earlier this month for
failing to appear in court over traffic violations. His dog, a 2-year-old pitbull
named Buzz Lightyear, was impounded at a local shelter as a result, but
Thomas couldn't afford to pay the $400 to get him out.
Maria Sanchez, a photographer and animal activist at the shelter, took a
touching photo of Thomas and his dog while they were at the facility and posted
it to Facebook, where it went viral. Donations poured in, exceeding the cost of
the impound fee, and Thomas and his dog were reunited.
Now, Thomas is allegedly threatening to sue Sanchez.
Thomas called KTLA and claimed that Sanchez was withholding money from
him. The photographer apparently did not know about Thomas' plan to sue and
took to Facebook and YouTube to tell her side of the story.
From the video's YouTube description:
Apparently, Dave has called to inform them that I am keeping the money
raised for his dog. I have transferred $842.07 into my bank to reimburse myself
for the shelter fees, vet and PetSmart shopping spree that I put onto my
personal credit card. I had a discussion regarding the remainder of the
donations and how he would like to spend them. I said it would be a good idea
to pay off any outstanding tickets so that he will not be taken to jail in the future
for having a warrant for unpaid traffic tickets. I asked if he had any bills that
were due at the time. I told him that every dime that was donated would go to
him and Buzz, but that I would not be giving him the cash.
In the 40-second YouTube clip posted by Sanchez, a man purported to be
Thomas can be heard saying, "You are dead wrong and I will be getting in
touch with the lawyer and if you do anything with my money that is slander one,
embezzlement two…what’s the other one? Oh, grand larceny because it’s over
According to Los Angeles network KABC, Sanchez said Thomas wanted the
rest of the cash from the shelter donations in a lump sum, but she refused.
Sanchez is now saying she will refund the remaining money to individual donors
at their request.
The twist in this formerly feel-good story caught the attention of others in the
Los Angeles area.
"As a response to the alleged sad turn of events in a story that touched so
many," writes LAist writer Lauren Lloyd, "we can only hope Thomas and his
wife, should they feel any ill-will toward Sanchez, will realize that she was merely
trying to help."
No good deed goes unpunished
I'm thinking that Maria Sanchez might be wary of owners of very large pit bulls
in the future. Could the breed of that innocent dog have been a clue to
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