A man who was arrested and charged for taking a puppy from a Pembroke Pines pet shop took the animal because it was sick and needed help, he told NBC 6 in an exclusive interview Friday.
Vahid McLaughlin was charged with grand theft and resisting recovery of stolen property after police say he was caught on surveillance video Monday taking the puppy from Petland.
“I’ve been raising and training dogs for over 40 years, and I’ve always had a dog with me," McLaughlin told NBC 6. "My last dog, a Lab, died a few months ago."
He went to the store to get a new dog and admits to what the video shows — taking Toby, an 8-week-old Pomapoo, or Pomeranian-Poodle mix. He was priced at $6,000.
“They’re trying to pass this dog on to me for $6,000. A Pomeranian is not worth, in my opinion, more than $2,000, $2,500, or $3,000," McLaughlin added.
But McLaughlin said the main reason he snatched the puppy was because he thought it was sick.
“He looked fatigued, he looked sick, he had redness around his eyes, he had swelling," McLaughlin said. "I said, 'This dog is sick. What's wrong with him?'"
McLaughlin said he didn't call the police or animal control because he believed they wouldn't have responded in the time necessary. Now, he's planning to fight his felony charges.
Petland says Toby was brought to their store in a cardboard box and covered in urine — he died two days later. Store officials said they planned on donating him to a COVID-19 survivor in need.
“It was supposed to brighten their day, so we’re gonna donate another puppy, but Toby was supposed to go to another family, so that just breaks all of out hearts,” said manager Stephanie Victor.