PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – A Pembroke Pines pet store surprised an 8-year-old Broward County girl with a new puppy Saturday months after she lost her beloved dog in a grisly shooting.
Amaliyah Gassen is now the proud owner of a two-month-old white Chihuahua thanks to a donation from the Petland store in 300 block of North University Drive.
"I feel so happy, like this is the best day of my life. I’m, I’m just, like, she's, she's exactly like the other one that I had," Amaliyah said.
Luis Marquez, the owner of the store, said he wanted to help the family after seeing their story on the news. The family is also getting free dog training classes and free vet consultations for life.
"It's about the holidays. And uh, what’s better than to be able to give back? We’re just glad to see her smile," Marquez said.
On Sept. 29, Gassen's mother, Rashelle Pearson, was taking the dog named Princess for a walk inside her Davie apartment complex when police said 19-year-old Johansen Concepcion De La Ros shot and killed the dog with a pellet gun from a nearby balcony.
An off-duty police officer witnessed the shooting and prevented Concepcion De La Ros from fleeing, police said.
When Concepcion De La Ros was arrested, officers found a pellet gun made to look like a rifle with a targeting scope inside the apartment.
Concepcion De La Ros, 19, faces a charge of felony cruelty to animals. His case is expected to go trial early next year.
Pearson said the shooting hit her daughter hard. "She cried for, for days," Pearson said.
For Amaliyah, getting new pet was a great surprise, but it was also bittersweet.
"I'll still remember Princess, but she’ll see how good I’m treating this one. And she'll appreciate it," she said.