12 OYS: Groomer accused of losing dog, operating without business license

News 12 at 6 o'clock / May 27, 2014

APPLING, Ga. (WRDW) -- A woman said she paid a dog grooming business to watch her Chihuahua, but instead they lost her dog and did not tell her until she went to pick her up.

Vergilia Velez said 3 years ago she rescued Ellie the Chihuahua after finding her in a garbage bag in a parking lot. After getting the run-around from the groomer, she posted pictures of Ellie on CSRA's Humane Society Facebook page, hoping someone will recognize the missing dog.

"I'm begging. She's my everything. It's hot outside and I just hope that somebody maybe knows about her and can return her," said a tearful Vergilia Velez.

Pictures are all Velez has left to remember Ellie, her 3 year-old Chihuahua. Velez said she trusted Town and Country Dog Grooming in Appling, to care for Ellie during the Memorial Day weekend.

"She (manager) showed me she'd put a baby gate up and for sure Ellie will not escape," said Velez. That was on Friday. On Monday afternoon, Velez said she knew something was wrong when she called the groomer and did not reach anyone.

"I'm driving up and unfortunately she said I don't have, she didn't even remember the dog's name," said Velez.

Distraught, Velez said Mary Garnto, the woman in charge told her Ellie disappeared on Saturday, and did not explain why she did not call Velez to let her know. She said instead, Garnto told her what she could do.

"She said you know what, I will bring you my rubber boots and you can go into the woods and look for her," said Velez.

Outraged, Velez said she filed an incident report with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, and posted a picture of Ellie on the CSRA Human Society's Facebook page, hoping someone has seen the dog.

News 12 contacted the business and spoke to Garnto, but when we asked her about the missing dog, she hung up the phone. However, according to Columbia County officials, the business is listed under a George Foster and its license expired in January.

Meanwhile for Velez, she just hopes Ellie comes home soon. "I'm hopeful that she's just running around trying to find home, but it's hot outside. If she didn't contact me for two days, I don't know where (Ellie) she could be," said Velez.

She said she has two other dogs that were also kept at the groomer both were returned with no problems. Velez said Ellie is microchipped and that if anyone spots the Chihuahua to contact animal control.

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