Before he was stolen, Ziggy, a fluffy Maltese puppy from Fresno, Calif., was last seen inside his crate in his family’s front yard.
When Kris Villasenor, the dog’s owner, realized her children’s beloved pet was missing last week, the distraught mother turned to Facebook for help.
“Today our Ziggy got stolen out of our front yard,” she wrote on Facebook, before offering a description of a hairless female suspect in her late 40s who was known to frequent the area. “If anyone sees him please return him home, there is a little broken-hearted girl who would love her Ziggy back.”
After a relative shared Villasenor’s post, Jeremiah Lee saw it in his Facebook news feed.
Though he didn’t know Villasenor and her kids personally, he lives in the family’s neighborhood and wanted to help. He decided to share the information on a neighborhood page dedicated to lost pets, he told Fox affiliate KTVU. Checking on the post later, Lee noticed that one commenter had spotted Ziggy — or a dog that closely resembled him — for sale on Craigslist and provided a link to the online ad.
Ziggy, Lee discovered, was being peddled by a stranger for $160.
The details provided in the ad struck Lee as highly suspicious and he decided to take action before the dog disappeared for good.
“So I didn’t say anything and figured I’d try contacting the person and pretend that I was interested in buying the dog,” he told KTVU. “Then I decided to download an app that can text people while masking a phone number. I texted the seller a message saying that they broke a little girl’s heart and to do the right thing. I thought I wouldn’t hear back.”
And yet, he told KTVU, he did hear back. When the seller responded, she told him that she’d purchased the pooch from a homeless person and didn’t realize he was stolen, according to ABC News. Lee met the woman in a public place, negotiated the price down and was eventually able to recover Ziggy for $40.
His next step was to get a hold of Villasenor through Facebook and let her family know her dog had been rescued. He posted a photo of himself holding the dog with his phone number and waited for Villasenor to call.
A short time later, the overjoyed mother was at Lee’s house to pick up her dog.
“When Kris got to my house she put her daughter on speaker phone and she was bawling, it was so sweet,” Lee told ABC News. “Kris insisted on reimbursing me, to my protest. I wanted to help because I would hope that someone would do the same for me.”
With Ziggy back at home, Villasenor posted the photo Lee had sent her with the following caption:
“And this is why I haven’t given up on society, there are amazing people out there. A big thank you to Jeremiah who had no idea who we were and went out of his way to buy the dog back and give it back to my daughter. Kudos to you!”
Villasenor told ABC News that Ziggy is on edge after his 48-hour odyssey but is happy to be home.
“It’s amazing what Jeremiah did just to get the dog back,” she said. “The kids are super stoked about it. It’s a wonderful feeling.”