Choco, dog held for ransom, returns home

Private investigator helps reunite pit bull with owner

By Erica Rakow - Reporter, Liane Morejon - Reporter

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. - The Staffordshire pit bull that was being held for ransom was back home Friday in North Miami, police said. 

Natalie Lopez said her 9-year-old dog, Choco, had been missing since April 10, after she let him outside in her backyard. Later, she learned the dog wasn't missing. He had been kidnapped.

She got a message from someone alleging to have the dog, and she complied with a request to wire $750. But that wasn't enough. The extortionist wanted $2,000 more in cash.

"People thought I was crazy because I basically just wanted to give up my entire summer and just look for him," Lopez said.

Instead of handing over the cash, she turned it into reward money. Private investigator Jamie Katz helped Lopez get Choco back home. 

"I always told her, we're going to get him back," Katz said.

Choco is seemingly OK, though tired and skinnier than before.

"The reward money doesn't matter, because I basically saved him," Lopez said.

Lopez said she doesn't intend to let Choco outside along ever again.

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