WELD COUNTY, Colo. — What was supposed to be an early Christmas present for Tierney Salaz's two kids quickly turned into a nightmare.
Salaz spotted an ad on Craigslist about a male and female pitbull puppy for sale in Aurora, so she reached out to the seller and expressed interested. The seller told her via text message the puppies were eight weeks old and had received their first round of shots.
Salaz and the seller agreed to meet in front of the Chili's in Brighton on Monday as a halfway point.
“It really wasn't an option to go to his location. It had to be a meeting spot,” the mother said.
Salaz bought the female puppy for $400, but just hours after the sale, she noticed something was off.
“I just noticed something wasn't right with her body. She was so thin with a huge abdomen,” she said.
She took the puppy to Coal Ridge Animal Hospital, where she was told the puppy was actually around five to six weeks old and needed a pricey, life-saving emergency surgery.
“That’s where we found the X-ray. Her stomach was so engorged with food,” said Dr. Christy Maddock with Coal Ridge Animal Hospital. “We had to move to a full procedure, open her stomach and physically empty out all the contents, which turned out to be quite a pile.”
Salaz contacted the seller prior to the surgery to let him know the puppy was sick and demanded her money back, saying she didn't expect to get a sick puppy. The seller responded by saying, “Sorry but that puppy is going to be just fine.”
Salaz said she hasn't heard from the seller since and never received the puppy's vaccine records, despite multiple calls and texts.
“I put up an ad of my own with a screenshot of him saying this is what this person is doing," said Salaz. "It was flagged within 20 minutes or so and taken down.”
“It’s disappointing to know someone is out there neglecting or not caring for animals the way that they should be,” Salaz continued.
“It was definitely extreme, and puppies that age are usually still on milk,” said Maddock.
Denver7 called and texted the seller on both of his numbers. We were unable to leave a voicemail and never got a text response back.
Salaz contacted Aurora Animal Control about the seller and the condition of the puppy. A spokesperson told Denver7 they're calling this an open investigation and recommend never purchasing a pet from Craigslist or Facebook, since there's no screening process involved.
Denver7 also reached out to the City of Brighton, where the sale was made. Police said it's against city code for anyone to display an animal in a public place for purposes of selling or giving the animal away. A spokesperson said if a report is made, they will investigate.
On a more positive note, Coal Ridge Animal Hospital paid for almost $800-worth of Salaz's vet bill due to the unfortunate circumstance. The puppy is expected to be okay.