Woman reunited with dog stolen in extortion case

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SAN DIEGO (KSWB) - A San Diego woman was reunited with her dog after police say he was stolen and his captor asked for cash in exchange for his return.

Alejandra Casey and her three-year-old dog, Paco, a rescue from Tijuana, were running errands Monday morning at a shopping center in Rancho Bernardo.

“I didn’t want to leave Paco in the car so I tied him up at a bench," Casey told KSWB. "When I came out he was gone.”

Casey said a woman called her cell phone, listed on Paco's collar, and claimed that she had found Paco in the parking lot. She asked for $50 in exchange for his return, Casey said. They met near the store, but Casey said the woman did not bring Paco with her.

"It was a ransom," Casey told FOX 5. "I said, 'I want to see my dog first and I'll give you the money.' She got upset."

Sgt. Matthew Botkin with the San Diego Police Department said the woman then ran. Casey called 911. Officers were able to track down her car, located about a block away. Inside the car, tied up, was Paco. The windows were rolled up and it was about 113 degrees inside the car, Botkin said.

“I have never heard of a doggie extortion case before," Botkin said.

SDPD arrested the woman, identified as 55-year-old Lisa Lavigne. She faces a number of charges including extortion, cruelty to animals, petty theft, and stolen property. Lavigne also had a bench warrant out for her arrest for driving with a suspended license, officials said.

Paco was returned safely to Casey.

"I just thought of people who lose children, and I thought – if this hurts this much for a pet, I can’t imagine the pain," Casey said.

Lavigne is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 20.

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