‘Puppy playdate’ was ploy to steal French bulldog and hold him for ransom, NJ man says
A man’s French bulldog puppy was taken while he was on a “puppy playdate” that turned out to be a setup, he told McClatchy News.
Xavier Burgos, who lives in Orange, New Jersey, said he took his 5-month-old puppy, Enzo, to a park in Sewaren to meet another French bulldog owner on May 5.
The other dog owner was a person he knew through a mutual friend, he said. Burgos said he now believes he was using a fake name.
Burgos, the other dog owner and the dog owner’s friend, who said his name was “Jay” and whom Burgos had never met before, ended up at an apartment complex where Jay said he lived, Burgos said.
Enzo was playing with Jay’s dog outside when Burgos briefly stepped into his car to talk with his girlfriend, he said. Burgos said he was never more than 10 feet away from the dogs.
When he stepped out of the car, he saw the men speeding away with Enzo. He tried to follow them in his car, but at that point, it was too hard to catch up.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I didn’t know what the (expletive) was going on.”
On May 7, Burgos posted screengrabs of messages he started receiving from the suspects who he said were trying to extort him for money and were threatening his dog.
“Bruh send the bread rn or it’s done for the dog,” one of the messages says, according to the screengrabs.
“I swear any funny biz I’ll (blank) ya fluffy,” says another message that Burgos censored before posting.
Burgos said the men asked for $8,000, which Burgos agreed to pay, but the suspects never showed up at the meeting place with Enzo.
Police are investigating the theft, ABC7 NY reported. The Woodbridge Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for information from McClatchy News.
Burgos said he’s worried about Enzo who is “literally 10 pounds” and “defenseless,” he said.
“I try not to think about it,” he said. “It bothers me a lot. I’ve been hella anxious, nonstop pacing around, biting my nails like crazy, just waiting.”
He said he and his girlfriend have had Enzo for about a month, but from the moment they picked him up from the breeder, it was “love at first sight.”
“(He’s) goofy, full of life, literally lights up every room he walks into,” he said. “I miss him just laying on my bed, being in the way.”
Burgos asked anyone with information to contact the Woodbridge Police Department and help him get his dog back.
As they increase in popularity, French bulldogs have become targets for theft, and puppies can sell from $4,000 to $6,000, according to an article published in June by the New York Times. Special varieties can go for even more.
Woodbridge is about 20 miles south of Newark. Sewaren is a community within Woodbridge Township.
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