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Woman arrested after refusing to say who has dog owner's Yorkshire terrier

Amanda Finley says Shawntavia Nelson promised to return dog she found


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Palm Beach Gardens woman was arrested Monday after she found a Fort Lauderdale woman's lost dog but refused to return the pet or reveal the dog's whereabouts, the owner told Local 10 News.

Shawntavia Nelson was arrested by Palm Beach Gardens police on charges of grand theft, resisting arrest without violence and assault.

"Bella is like my child," Amanda Finley said Tuesday. "I've had her for six years. She means the world to me. She is my life."

Finley told Local 10 reporter Sanela Sabovic that she can't stop crying knowing that her dog is missing. She hasn't seen Bella since last week, when she dropped off the 6-year-old tea cup Yorkshire terrier at her mother's house in Palm Beach Gardens before going on vacation. Finley said Bella escaped Friday night, prompting a neighborhood search.

"I immediately flew home," Finley said. "I had friends and family posting up countless fliers."

Finley believes the fliers and the $1,500 reward money led to a telephone call from Nelson.

"Shawntavia Nelson contacted me the next night on Saturday and said that she had found my dog and that she was going to return her to me," Finley said.

Finley kept in contact with Nelson, who said she was going to give her Bella, but she never did.

"She said she couldn't reach her friend and she refused to give me any information regarding who actually had Bella," Finley said.

Eventually, Finley contacted police because she said Nelson never did.

"According to the law, dogs are property and you cannot give them away," Finley said. "You have to contact the authorities. ... She didn't do that."

Once police got involved, Nelson got angry, Finley said.

"She threatened to harm my mom," Finley said.

Private investigator Jamie Katz said her agency desperately needs names in order to help Finley find her dog.

Finley has a message for anyone who might know where to find Bella.

"If you can just bring her back to me, you will not get in trouble," Finley said. "We will give you a $5,000 reward."