Dog Owner at Odds with Woman Who Helped Him

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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KTLA) — The sweet tale of a man re-united with his beloved dog thanks to a viral photo on Facebook has apparently turned sour.

Dave Thomas was pictured tearfully comforting his pit bull, named Buzz Lightyear, at a San Bernardino animal shelter.

Buzz had been taken from Thomas when he was arrested and sent to jail for being a no-show in court on a traffic violation.

Pet advocate Maria Sanchez created a Facebook page to help raise the funds to Buzz out of the shelter, becasue Thomas couldn’t afford the more than $400 in fees.

The picture touched the hearts of many, who opened their pocketbooks, raising even more than the impound fees.

Thomas told KTLA that he was ecstatic about the support, saying, “I gotta kiss the feet of Maria Sanchez,” and calling her “a godsend.”

But now, it appears that all of that may have changed.

KTLA received a call from Thomas claiming that Sanchez was withholding the money raised for Buzz. KTLA then contacted Sanchez about the matter.

Sanchez subsequently posted a video to YouTube of a voicemail, reportedly from Thomas, threatening to sue her for keeping the money.

“After I hung up with KTLA channel 5, I tried to call Dave,” Sanchez writes in a message accompanying the video.

“His wife would not let me speak to him. She screamed at me that I was stealing their dog’s money.

She said they have called the news stations and that if I did not give them their money, they were going to call the police.”

In the post, Sanchez explains that she transferred $842.07 to her own account to reimburse the expenses incurred in the mission to rescue Buzz.

She says that she spoke to Thomas about how she wanted him to spend the remainder of the donations.

“I told him that every dime that was donated would go to him and Buzz, but that I would not be giving him the cash,” she writes.

“I explained to him that the money that was donated was a blessing for him, I wanted to be sure that we respected that and used the donations responsibly.

“He sat next to me and nodded his head,” she says. “Not one response, question or concern.”

Sanchez says that she now plans to refund the donations.

“The donations will NOT go to Dave after the stunt he has pulled,” she writes, adding, “No good deed goes unpunished, right?”

If you’d like your donation refunded or transferred to help another animal, you can contact Sanchez by email at:

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  • AdoptAShelterDog

    Animal rescuers like Maria work hard to save dogs from certain death in our local shelters. This man is not alone – he has a "wife" and after he wanted to kiss the ground that Maria walks on for saving Buzz, he then proceeds to talk about suing her for not giving her the money raised to save his dog – pay the fees, the vet and for supplies (sorry, no cheetos). It seems to me that perhaps Dave's desire for the money shows that there is more to this story – yes, he is homeless, and people wanted to help. But I can't help but wonder if his righteous anger over "his" money is because he needs it to feed some form of addiction. Maria discussed with him using the money to pay off other tickets so that he wouldn't end up in this position again – the goal always was to help this man and his dog. Best intentions sometimes end up with the hand that helps you being bitten. Good luck to Dave – but Maria did way more for this man that she had to – but she cares, so she did what was right.

  • Scarlet

    OKAY, are you kidding me??! If I went to jail and someone helped me get my dog back after I felt there was no hope to ever get him back, the dog is all I would want and I would be grateful to this lady forever! What a scum bag. What good is money when you are so poor morally? Maria is absolutely doing the right thing by reimbursing those donations.

  • jason

    You know, hs11378 has nothing to do with drug USE/ABUSE. CAL H&S 11378 speaks in it’s entirety about possession for sales of ANY CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE CLASSIFIED AS SCHEDULE III, IV, OR V AND IS NOT A NARCOTIC DRUG…

    These offenses are punishable by jail or prison sentences.

    Drug dealer, possibly. Transporter, also possibly.

    Felony, Absolutely.

    But for Maria to transfer DONATED FUNDS into her PERSONAL bank account…


    In CA. Criminal Law, misappropriation is the INTENTIONAL and ILLEGAL use of property or FUNDS of another person for one’s own use or OTHER UNAUTHORIZED USE… or by ANY PERSON WITH A RESPONSIBILITY TO CARE FOR AND PROTECT ANOTHER’S ASSETS (a fiduciary duty, self-announced in Maria’s case)(In stating that the FUNDS RAISED were to go to the man and his dog, Maria established OWNERSHIP of these funds as BELONGING TO THE MAN AND HIS DOG.) Maria’s use of or refusal to remand custody of said funds to the man and his dog (the intended recipients) is by definition misappropriation due to her refusal to give them the remaining funds and by her announcement that she would refund all money remaining (that hasn’t already been spent…).

    MISAPPROPRIATION in California is a FELONY, a crime punishable by a sentence in the State Prison. Jail is not an option within the sentencing structure.

  • cindyc

    The problem is that too often when a person helps someone, they somehow think that person owes them something, or that they now have a right to dictate what the person should do in the future, There are too often strings attached. People donated cash money to this man's cause. They meant for it to go to meeting the man's needs, period. $800 could have gotten them shelter for a month, until the weather warms up, at least. It might have fed the dog and the couple who owned him for a few months… the woman had no right to withhold the money, period.

  • sailbyme

    How can she possibly take money donated to him and decide what he should use it for? What nerve. People didn't donate money to her to give to him. What a bitch. I hope he sues the shit out of her. I would also want to see all receipts to verify what she reimbursed herself. Poor guy has nothing but bad luck.

  • Bonnie

    I can't help think the man is over looking the amount of people who have helped in this situation. I hope this man will be thankful and drop the law suit.

  • Yvonne

    I donated and it was clearly stated on Maria's page that the money was for the dog and the dog only! It was not a "human" fundraiser — it was for the animal. This man is an ungrateful jerk and so is his greedy wife. I feel sorry for the dog — his owner sucks!

  • quest

    the amount she put into her personal acct was to cover expenses related to the dog! the donations were for the dog to get out of shelter n care! this woman did what she set out to do which was reunite a beloved pet with his owner. she discussed with him about fines and bills due so she was going to use the rest of donations to help him out!!! this guy got greedy not her! I don't blame her for not wanting to give him cash either. duh no brainer there! you never really know if its going to be used for what it was intended for. Now he wants to sue? hmm wonder why? doesn't take a genius to figure that one out. it wasn't that this woman wasn't going to use funds to help him out (which would help dog ) but because she wouldn't give him cash. anyone that can find fault with that then there is something wrong with you. so i agree with her give refunds of the remainder amount of money to the people who donated.

    • Guest

      A judge would find fault with that. Money intended and collected for this man and his dog, went into her personal account. If she were smart, she'd give him a gift card for dog food at the local pet store. But she better either give him the money or return it, because if he gets to small claims court, she will lose.

      • quest

        no judge would find fault with her putting money into her acct to cover expenses she incurred that was in direct way of helping the dog and owner!!!! it is legal to do that. where does it say she put all the donations in her acct? it just says the only money she put in her acct was the $800 something which that action is legal.

        • guestimo

          Dude's a bum and the lady went above and beyond the call of duty for him. No judge I know would convict…but then again, this took place in California.

  • kennyk NEPA

    Why not just refund the money to the respective donors instead of posting a person rants. It's clear from the very onset of the situation that caused his animal to be taken away that he's dysfunctional and very irresponsible, so why all the fuss when he acts accordingly?

    Helping such people usually results in this type of behavior from them. The thing is it's just help, not a need to be approved and then take advantage of them to get media attention and praise about again as you play head games with them.

    This should have been a private matter from the onset and any and all funds reimbursed that were not needed for the original intention. Maria has been going to refund the money for how many days now?

    JUST DO IT AND let everyone get on with their lives. Do we need more drama? We actually don't need this type of drama in today's society of do gooders, etc, etc, etc.


  • Arnold rand

    This must be that "entitlement attitude" for which California is famous. Should have let the bum's dog die. Guy is clearly a flake. Harsh, but you wouldn't be wrapped up in legal matters right now would you?

  • nyc train guy

    This guy is your basic crackhead scum bubble,he belongs on the street, no good deed goes unpunished,.let the street people be, they are not there cause they are the salt of thje earth they are there cause theyll sell their granma for a bag of scagg….poor lady poor doggie :(

  • scottyboy

    Take a look at this scumbag. He has a pit bull, he didn't pay his traffic fines so he went to jail, and he's homeless. Obviously extreme white trash just looking for a handout so him and his disgusting wife can afford more methamphetamine.

    • Elsing Tuttingham

      Listen to the youtube audio of his phone call, it even sounds like a couple of desperate junkies grasping at straws in hopes of getting a fix on someone else's dime. The guy's insistence over and over "I'm clean, I'm clean!" smacks of junkieness, no pun intended.

  • Elsing Tuttingham

    How is it this man cannot afford basics like shelter and food, but can afford to have a pitbull and a cellphone for harassing charity workers?

    Never saw "cellphone" or "Pitbull" on Maslow's hierarchy of needs but I'd be willing to risk a guess that they rank below "Shelter" in priority.


    Almost all derelects on the street want to be there its their lifestyle, others are there because they are dangerous psycopathic idiots, and then theres Dave, a meth fiend and dealer dont play around with these people, it could mean your life!

  • sickz

    the situation this guy was in, was rightfully so. prior to maria entering the picture —- he was dealing w/ the consequences to his prior actions. everyday he was there w/ his dog, visiting. waiting for someone like maria to come by. he essentially just earned bout 12.50/hr spending time w/ his dog.. if he was there 9-5 . which i doubt. all that matters, is a man and his dog are reunited. end story..

    yet maria breaks her own rule by amending it, and declaring it was best if she decided what to do w/ the rest. she was blinded by the money. after all, it is the root of all evil. do you hand a homeless guy $5 declaring he walk in subway and get himself a foot long? No, you give him the sandwich yourself.

    she was overstepping her boundries. She was aware of what she was doing, and preparing for the repercussions. Her future reasoning when inquired about the donations: "I know he'll do ok w/ the rest of the donations, because i didn't give it to him in cash."