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Photo via Collier County Sheriff's Office

Two people arrested for stealing a dog from one family and selling it to another

Deputies have reunited a 3-month-old Labrador puppy with its owners after arresting two individuals who stole the animal and sold it to another family for $150.

Accoring to Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Johnny Lee Moreno, 19, of East Naples, and Mitchell Rusk, 17, of Golden Gate Estates were arrested Thursday on charges of grand theft.

Ebony the puppy went missing on Sunday and her owners placed flyers around Everglades City thinking she had wandered off from their front yard along Camellia Street East.

A gas station attendant along Collier Boulevard told the puppy’s owner he had seen two men interacting with the dog in the parking lot at the gas station the same day the puppy went missing. Deputies reviewed surveillance footage at the gas station and later identified the suspects based on their physical descriptions.

On Thursday, deputies spoke with Rusk, who offered to give the dog back. But deputies later learned that Moreno had sold the dog, originally purchased for $1,000 from a breeder, to a family for $150.

The puppy’s new family told deputies they were suspicious about the price and learned the puppy was already microchipped following a visit to the vet. The new family learned through Facebook that the original owner was missing a black Labrador puppy, and reached out to the owner and gave the puppy back.

Deputies located Moreno at his mother’s house on Thursday. Moreno told deputies he thought the puppy was a stray.

Moreno and Rusk were arrested and charged with grand theft.

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