LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Criminal charges have been filed against Savanna Espinoza, 19, Johnny Espinoza, 37, and Jacklynn Espinoza, 36, by the Nevada Attorney General.
The 14-count felony and gross misdemeanor charges include conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, theft with the assistance of a child, theft, cruelty to animals and ownership or possession of a firearm by prohibited person. The alleged canine theft scheme was committed between November 2016 and February 2018, and the Espinozas were arrested on Tuesday of this week.
According to the complaint, the Espinozas would falsely represent themselves as the owners of lost dogs, or would obtain dogs from owners looking to rehome their pet by promising to provide the dog with a loving and permanent home. Instead, the Espinozas would sell the stolen canines for profit. The complaint further alleges that the Espinozas are also charged for the neglect of two dogs, with one suffering from untreated infections, malnourishment and inappropriate living conditions.
This case was investigated and is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Division. A complaint is merely a charging document; every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
If you or anyone you know has been victimized by the Espinozas’ scheme, please contact our office at 702-486-3307. The criminal Complaint filed against the Espinozas is attached.
Animal advocates refer to the scheme as "flipping" and say it is prevalent in Clark County.
Many saying pet owners and those who find lost pets need to be extra cautious. They say the first thing everyone should do if they find a lost pet is notify the local animal shelter.
If you are trying to find the owner yourself the best practice is to ask for proof of ownership beyond a simple photo.
"Anyone can copy a picture from the internet. If you own a dog, you have some proof that it is your dog. You have vet records, a rabies certificate," Ronni Land, the administrator of the Lost Dogs of Las Vegas Facebook page said.
The group provides a long list of tips for those looking for lost pets or their owners.
"If you aren't sure, meet at the vet or meet at the shelter because a thief isn't likely to go that far," Land said.
When it comes to the victims who were rehoming their beloved pets, Land said lots of people are deceived by the initial visit and say it is best to visit the adopters home and ask for help from a reputable rescue.
"We say you can not give the dog away. You need to do a home check," Land said. "Never give a dog away from free, charge something. It will disuade a lot of people."
You can find a lost of animals rescues here.