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Thornton family says they were scammed into buying sick dogs that died days later at home

Posted at 10:04 PM, Dec 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-15 00:55:28-05

THORNTON, Colo. -- A family in Thornton is going through what could be best described as a holiday nightmare, after they claim they were scammed into buying sick puppies from a breeder on Craigslist.

The Vondra family told Denver7 that two French Bulldogs died, one of them in their arms, and now they have a warning for anyone looking to buy a new pet online.

Savannah Vondra, 17, found the ad on Craigslist and contacted us, with her mother Stacy Vondra’s permission, to share her family’s story.

“When we sat down, I just kept looking at his face and he was breathing so slow. And then all of a sudden I looked back down again and he wasn't like moving his nose anymore,” said Savannah as she recounted the day one of the puppies died in her arms.

Not one, but two French bulldog puppies died within days of coming home with the Vondra family. They say they’re out of thousands of dollars that were paid to a breeder they believed was trustworthy, and are now heartbroken.

“The vet had said that it was definitely parvo, they were exposed to it at the breeder. Because it’s a five to ten day incubation period,” said Stacy.

They purchased three dogs: Frankie, Dallas and Memphis after meeting with the woman twice in parking lot outside of an Aurora PetSmart.

“That was the only post we saw for French Bulldogs and we were really wanting a bulldog and we just went and talked to her and saw them and fell in love instantly,” said Stacy. “I asked if they were up to date on their vaccines. She said yes. Had they been dewormed? Yes.”

The woman selling the dogs, they said, seemed rushed and even offered a deal to get them in a home, as she was about to leave for a vacation out of the country.

“When we met them, all the puppies seemed really healthy and they were playful and running around,” said Stacy.

But as soon as they got home, the dogs became lethargic, wouldn't eat and started to vomit blood. Stacy took them to the vet several times and even put them on IV drips to help hydrate them, but it was too late. Frankie died two days later and Dallas passed away a few days after that during a visit to the vet while in Savannah’s arms.

“We unwrapped him and the vet came in and there was no heartbeat.”

Stacy told Denver7 she has called and tried to contact the breeder several times. The breeder was on vacation and only responded in texts with reasons why she couldn't pay the family back for the two deceased dogs.

“I had called her that evening and left her a detailed voice message and told her everything that had happened and that I took the dog to the vet and cremated it and she never returned a phone call.”

Denver7 tried calling the woman accused of selling sick puppies and left a voicemail.

But not all is lost. Memphis, the largest pup of the litter, did not contract parvo and is alive and well.

The Vondra family is trying to focus on her but they do have regrets and want to warn the public.

“Going through that process with Frankie and Dallas and seeing the life drained out of them, I don’t want that to happen again,” said Stacy.

To check for all licensed breeders in the State of Colorado click here and download the link under the "What's New?" section. You can also file a complaint with the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, or PACFA program, at the same webpage.

Denver7 reached out to PACFA regarding the breeder named by the Vondra family. A spokesperson for the program told Denver7 the breeder that sold the sick dogs is not licensed with the state.