An Air Force veteran says he had his service dog taken away and given to another family.
Now, he doesn't know where his dog is or if she is OK and has filed lawsuits to try to get her back.
Noah Malakan, 36, served in the Air Force for eight years until he was honorably discharged in 2012.
But ever since, he has struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder.
That's why Malakan and his wife, Mary, decided to adopt a bulldog named "Betty Boop" from Nate's Honor Animal Rescue in January.
From the moment he saw the dog, Malakan said, he knew that she was supposed to be with him and his family. He said Betty Boop brought him comfort almost instantly and followed him around everywhere.
"She's like our child," Malakan said. "She has helped and comforted me in so many ways."
Last month, the couple came under financial hardship when Malakan lost his job and were about to be evicted from their apartment at Luxe Lakewood Ranch.
That's when he went to Turning Points, an organization that helps those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The organization, which also works with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide services for veterans in need, offered to help pay two months rent, Malakan said, but the apartment complex refused to take the money.
"They told me I needed to get my own money, even though I had checks for two months rent in my hand," he said.
Although he got another job, he said it wasn't enough to pay the rent in time. The couple was served a 24-hour eviction notice on March 23.
He and his wife spent hours loading their belongings into a storage unit, only leaving behind Betty Boop with her dog bed and toys.
Malakan said they returned to the apartment, still in the 24-hour window, to pick up the dog.
But Betty Boop was gone.
"The window was open but the entire screen was just gone," Malakan said. "I first thought the house had been burglarized."
Malakan was given a few different accounts of what happened to the dog, but he thinks employees at complex entered the home before their time slot was up and thought Malakan had left and abandoned the dog.
"I think they assumed we were just gone."
Attempts to reach the Luxe Apartment complex were unsuccessful Wednesday night and a call Thursday morning was not immediately returned.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office got involved and the couple was eventually told that a neighbor had the dog and sent it to a shelter, where they could go pick it up.
But when they got to Nate's Honor Animal Rescue, Malakan says employees there told him the dog needed some medical treatment, and that they had to leave the dog there until it was finished.
He said the shelter told him days later that she was given to a new family.
This is what they say the shelter told them:
"They danced around the fact they never treated her, which we found out by chance," Mary said. "They never actually formally said they adopted her out. ... They said that they gave her to a foster family because they had complications at the facility.
"First, (they said) it was too busy for her and she needed to be quiet, next they had a virus running around (parvo), and last that the family she was with live directly across from the vet so if there any complications they could get her care immediately."
But between the apartment complex not cooperating, the neighbor and the animal shelter, Malakan says he doesn't know what to believe.
"I don't know if my dog is dead or alive," he said. "I just want someone to tell me what actually happened to my dog."
According to an incident report by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, Luxe's property manager told the responding deputy that the dog had been an issue with getting out of the apartment before, and that the neighbor took her in because she was concerned. The deputy wrote that he was unable to speak with the neighbor at the time.
Court records show Malakan has filed a lawsuit against the apartment complex as well as a suit against Nate's Honor Animal Rescue. A detective with the sheriff's office is also working with them.
A spokesperson from Nate's Honor said that because it's an ongoing investigation, the shelter has been advised not to comment.
'"But we would like to tell our side of the story in the future," the spokesperson said.