The Trailor family plastered their Pinecrest neighborhood with fliers. They hired a company to place voicemails on 1,300 telephones near their home, and send their dog’s picture to 100 area veterinarians and pet-supply stores.
But Champ, a three-year-old black and white Boston Terrier, still hasn’t come home. He’s been gone since April 9.
The Trailors — Andrew and Monica Trailor and their children Garrett, 10, and Gianna, 5 — are devastated.
“He’s our little lap dog, about 18 pounds,” said Andrew Trailor, an attorney. “He sleeps at the foot of the bed and the kids love him.”
Champ’s story would be a sad but common one except for an odd twist: a mysterious telephone message.
A non-descript male voice on the phone message simply said: “I’m sorry to tell you that your dog is dead. He was killed accidentally, instantaneously, and I think painlessly. And was buried with dignity and this is all I can tell you. I’m sorry to tell you and your family. I just hope this gives you some closure.”
The call deeply upset the family. But then something disturbed the Trailors about the phone message, which they played repeatedly. The caller was cryptic and left no details. There was nothing specific about the dog or how it had died.
“It didn’t make sense,” said Andrew Trailor, a lawyer. “If they hit the dog with a car, he had a collar, they would have called right away.”
The voice offered little solace. No offer to bring the remains home or to tell the family where the dog was buried.
When the family traced the call from the caller ID, phone records show that the call was placed from the Nordstrom department store at Dadeland Mall in Kendall. The Trailors raced to the mall last weekend only to learn that the store had no record of that call originating from that location. The security cameras set up around the store’s phones captured no image of anyone placing a call at that time.
The family suspects that the caller used a software application to disguise the telephone number and caller identification. “Our vet said he’s not trying to help you. He’s trying to get you to stop looking.”
The scheme is called “spoofing” and allows users to disguise the tone of their voice — from male to female or vice versa — and to change the caller ID.
“My fear is he got scooped up and put in a pet mill,” Trailor said, noting that Champ is not neutered. “I’m not accusing. If you have the dog, bring him home. We will pay $1,500 cash. If you have found a black and white male Boston Terrier in the last two weeks, or know of someone who has. This will invite someone who knows of another with a new Boston Terrier to possibly call. The reward is for the return or information leading to the return. No questions asked.”
The family’s vet, Dr. Ken Snyder, of The Visiting Vet in Pinecrest, said that it isn’t unusual for dogs and cats to be snatched for breeding purposes.
“Pure-bred dogs? Oh yes, absolutely. We always recommend the microchipping process,” he said.
In fact, Champ had a collar listing his home address and an embedded microchip when he bolted from under a fence.
A week went by and Trailor said he learned of Pet Amber Alert, an online company that sends out phone messages, social media posts and issues alerts to veterinarians.
“I wish I’d have done that at day one,” Trailor said.
Still, Pet Amber Alert notified 1,300 homes in a five-mile radius and sent notifications to 100 pet-supply stores and vets in a 20-mile radius. The service cost the family $250.
Snyder said dognapping can’t bring good karma.
“This story will tell how cruel humans can be and the lessons we learn from such,” Snyder said. “I’m a spiritual kind of guy and that person that did this, that made this prank call, their soul will never rest.”
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