An Illinois woman is trying to clear up a story about the alleged dognapping of her two Yorkshire terriers from a gas station in Greenwood.
“The main thing is nobody knows anything. There’s a lot of speculation. Nobody knows anything,” said Tammy Counley-Ruetsche, who co-owns two teacup Yorkies with her former boyfriend, Carlos Gonzalez. Both live in Illinois, although on Wednesday Gonzalez was a guest of the Leflore County Jail.
One of the Yorkies, named Babygirl, is a service dog, according to Counley-Ruetsche; Max is not.
Counley-Ruetsche said she got a call from Gonzales about 11 p.m. on July 21. He told her that he was being booked into the county jail and that their two dogs had been stolen.
Counley-Ruetsche said Gonzalez told her he was at a Double Quick convenience store in Greenwood and went inside to pay for gas while leaving the windows open on the car so the dogs would be cool.
When he came back out, he told her, a group of men were around the car, and one of them was taking Max. Gonzalez followed their car to another spot in town. When he got out of his car with Babygirl in his arms, Gonzalez told her, one of the men pulled a gun and took the second dog.
The next day, Counley-Ruetsche posted on Facebook: “Our 2 Teacup Yorkies were taken out of the car while inside paying for gas around the Double Quick in Greenwood Mississippi area on 7/21/19.”
The story was noticed and passed around among Greenwood residents, prompting some of them to search for the dogs.
The following Saturday, Greenwood residents Brittany Gray and Lamar Lidell found Babygirl in an alley behind a vacant house in the 700 block of West Washington Street.
Gray called Counley-Ruetsche, and they determined the dog was one of the missing Yorkies. It was turned over to Martha LaVere Washington, a former director of the Leflore County Humane Society, for the night.
The next day, Counley-Ruetsche drove the 10 hours from Illinois to Greenwood to pick up Babygirl and spent a few hours looking for Max, who was still missing Wednesday.
Gonzalez was still in Leflore County Jail on Wednesday, held on a warrant from the Rockton (Illinois) Police Department for possession of a stolen vehicle, with bond set at $50,000.
Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Marvin Hammond read from a police incident report for July 21, when Gonzalez called Counley-Ruetsche from jail.
The report said Greenwood officers had come across an abandoned vehicle that had been in an accident. The vehicle identification number matched a car that had been reported stolen in Rockton.
Rockton Police Chief Stephen Dickson said Greenwood police found Gonzalez in an abandoned house near the abandoned car. He told them a group of men had shot at him and stolen his dogs.
Gonzalez has since waived his right to an extradition hearing and is awaiting transportation to Winnebago County Jail in Rockford, Illinois.
As to why Gonzalez allegedly drove the stolen car to Greenwood, Counley-Ruetsche said, “I don’t know why he was in that area. I don’t know why; I don’t care why. ... My concern is my animals.”
Counley-Ruetsche said she frequently shared custody of the dogs with Gonzalez.
“I work long hours. It’s not fair to keep the dogs in cages the whole day. If I can’t get anyone to come to my house, then I’ll let him take them for a bit,” Counley-Ruetsche said.
She said Gonzalez told her the dogs have helped improve his mental health.
She said if he had told her he was leaving for Mississippi, she wouldn’t have let him take the dogs.
Now, her main concern isn’t Gonzalez but her missing dog, Max, who is 9 months old, dark-toned and “very playful.”
Hammond said police are looking for Max as well as the group of men who allegedly attacked Gonzalez.
“It’s just a case we have to look into,” he said. “We have to take his word for it until we can find something more solid.”
•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.