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Boise dog owner believes his dog was kidnapped and is being held for ransom

"It was my son's first puppy and he was just crushed when she got out and he feels terrible about this situation," Chico said.

BOISE, Idaho —

Most of us remember the joy of getting our first pet, something that Chico McKinney's son Chase remembers vividly after getting his first puppy a month ago. That is until his puppy went missing a short time after.

On August 2, Chase's dog got out of their apartment on the Boise Bench and was reported to be seen wandering around the neighborhood; but only once.

That prompted the Mckinney family to begin a search for the puppy. For more than a week, they have been knocking on doors, handing out fliers and doing all they can to locate their lost dog.

"She's about 5 months old so she's probably still pretty small and gangly," Chico said. "Somebody said they saw her walking on Kootenai and Owyhee, somebody walking her, some college-age kids, they said."

Posters of Sam can be seen on nearly every corner, which the Mckinney family hopes will help someone identify their unique pup.

"A sweet five-month-old yellow lab puppy, she's really unique looking," Chico said, "she's got chocolate lab spots on her left shoulder."

Sam has another unique quality outside of the marking on her coat. She is also a Dudley labrador. "Which means she doesn't have pigment in her nose, around her lips and around her eyes," Chico said.

The Mckinneys live just a half hour from the place where their dog was last seen. 

"It was my son's first puppy and he was just crushed when she got out and he feels terrible about this situation," Chico said, "he had her for less than a month when she got out."

Within hours of Sam getting out, the Mckinneys were out searching for her. After a week of passing out posters, however, Chico received a text that took the situation from a normal lost dog case to a suspicious one.

"The first message said, 'is there still a reward for her?', Chico said, "which normally people say, 'hey I found your dog,' and are really excited about it, but this person, 'is there still a reward?'"

Chico asked for a picture from the anonymous person to prove it was their dog, Sam. The person responded with pictures of Sam, but said they wanted Chico to provide them with proof of ownership, something he did not feel comfortable doing.

"Then they went and said, 'well I need proof of ownership, can you please send us the breeder information?' Chico said. "We weren't comfortable giving that information, so we asked to meet them in person to show them all the proof of ownership."

Within two minutes of sending that text, Chico said he got another message from a different number saying Sam was dead, which Chico said was meant to throw them off the trail.

That person texted the Mckinney's the following:

"So my friend messaged you guys about your dog and I'm sorry to inform you that she isn't alive, I don't know how but they found your add and though dead or alive the reward would apply. She's in the backyard buried, she's been there a few days now. My friends just wanted the reward. I'm truly sorry."

It was after that second message that Chico decided to get the police involved. 

"They've been great about being helpful, but they're limited on what they can do, they weren't able to trace those numbers," Chico said.

The Mckinneys have not heard anything back since first receiving the text messages, but that has not deterred their search.

"As long as it takes, really," Chico said. "I mean I don't think we'll give up until we don't think there's any hope. And right now I still feel like there's hope."

The Boise Police Department is still investigating the case and trying to determine if the dog was taken from Chico's apartment. The text messages were confirmed to have come from an internet-based phone number, which is why police were unable to track it.

The Mckinneys have not lost hope, however. Chico told KTVB whatever anger he may feel towards the individual who took his son's dog would go away if they did the right thing, and brought her back; he also said he would shake their hand and tell them 'thank you.'

They just want their dog home.

If anyone sees Sam, please report the sighting to the Ada County non-emergency dispatch at 208-377-6790, Crime Stoppers at 208-343-2677, or the number listed on the fliers at 208-860-3197.

Wednesday, September 7 updated: 

Three days after our initial segment aired; the BPD closed the case. They said there was no crime committed within their jurisdiction. However, during their investigation, they did learn of a dog theft in Canyon County.

Turns out, Sam belonged to someone else, unbeknownst to Chico or his son, Chase. Chico told KTVB that he was told Chase's girlfriend took Sam the dog from a family friend, under the guise of a gift to Chase. But a month later, Chico said the actual owner learned about this, and demanded the dog be returned. Chico said the girlfriend took the dog, under the guise that Sam went 'missing,' then allowed Chase’s family to search for the dog. Chico told us he and his family are embarrassed, angry and hurt, but also thankful Sam is alive and safe.

"We were shocked to find out that Sam was never actually lost but returned to his rightful owner. Chase's entire family has spent the last month searching tirelessly for Sam, not knowing that she was not actually lost and that she was not actually ours," Chico said. "We still have so many questions about the details of how this happened and the messages we received after she was gone, but we are happy to know that Sam is doing well with her lab mom and puppy siblings."

BPD said they are not planning on pressing charges against the girlfriend; however, we are still waiting on word from Canyon County investigators about possible charges for stealing the puppy in the first place.

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