A dastardly dognapper snatched a fluffy pooch named “Precious” off an Old Mill Basin street, throwing the wandering canine into his trunk as her hysterical owner combed the area searching for her.
“I can’t sleep,” Wanda Soto said Friday, as she comes to grips with the disappearance of her seven-year-old Maltese, as well as the sinister call she received the next day demanding $15,000 for its safe return. “All I do is stay up and smoke, and I gave up smoking.”
Soto said that Precious and her pup Angel were in the backyard of her home on East 51st Street between avenues N and O at 12:30 pm March 28 when the wind storms that blew through the neighborhood knocked open her back gate.
Realizing that both dogs had slipped out, Soto ran out trying to find them.
She searched all the way down Utica Avenue to Flatbush Avenue looking for the dogs, until a man told her that he saw someone grab Precious and throw her into the trunk of a dark colored Toyota Camry.
“[The witness] wrote the license plate down, so I ran back to my house and called police,” she said.
Once she called 911, she and her daughter Celestina managed to track down and recover Angel, who was found on Flatbush Avenue.
Yet as the day drew on, there was still no sign of Precious, who takes medication for a condition known as “cherry eye.”
Soto didn’t hear anything until the next day after she and her daughter put up missing posters at a Utica Avenue Petco.
“This guy calls and says, ‘I have the dog, what’s the reward?’ My husband asks him to describe the dog, and he said that she had a cherry eye.”
As Soto went to grab the phone, the caller hung up. A few minutes later, the phone rang again.
“Are you ready to make an offer?” the man asked coldly.
“I asked him to name his price,” she said. “He said ‘$15,000.’”
She tried to get the caller to agree to a meeting, but the man hung up. He hasn’t called back.
While Soto’s family believes that someone out there has Precious, they can’t prove that the man who called was the fiend seen throwing their beloved dog into his trunk.
Cops from the 63rd Precinct said that they were still investigating the dognapping complaint. Investigators ran the out of state license plate, but it didn’t come back registered to anyone.
The plate may have been written down wrong, sources surmised.
Yet Precious’ owners are not giving up hope as they follow up any lead that comes their way.
“We got a call that a small dog was seen near the Key Food on Ralph Avenue, so my mother’s up there now, putting up fliers,” Celestina said.
Anyone with information regarding Precious or her disappearance can contact the 63rd Precinct at (718) 258-4411 or send an email to [email protected].