Read the original article by Natalie O’Neill at nypost.com here.
A dog rescue group in Queens held a lost pooch “hostage” for days — refusing to release her until her owners paid hundreds of dollars, the pet’s family and animal advocates claim.
Susy Cipia and her teenage son say Korean K9 Rescue — a nonprofit that helps place homeless dogs, according to its website — refused to return their 4-year-old Shiba Inu, Lily, unless the family forked over the cash for a sterilization surgery it didn’t want.
“We’re angry and upset,” fumed Cipia’s son, Axel Ventura, 15, who spoke for his Spanish-speaking mother. “It’s like holding a kid hostage.”
Lily had gotten loose from the family’s Long Island City yard on March 26 by slipping through a fence. She was found by a good Samaritan a couple blocks from the home.
The passer-by took the pooch to the Long Island City Veterinary Center, where workers discovered that Lily’s microchip had expired and posted a photo of the dog to its Facebook page.
Gina Boehler, a director of Korean K9 Rescue, volunteered to take the pooch. But when the family tracked down Lily the next day, Boehler demanded $250 to spay the dog before giving her back, according to the pooch’s owners.
Cipia said she told Boehler that she planned to breed the purebred pooch and didn’t want her to be sterile but that the rescue group refused to release the dog.
Korean K9 workers wouldn’t even say where Lily was being held, according to Cipia.
The organization backed down Friday and agreed to return the dog at no cost after catching heat on social media from a group of Queens pet owners and a lawyer representing Cipia.
Boehler, whose organization also fights the dog-meat trade in Korea, told The Post she thought the city Health Department required her to spay dogs before releasing them.
“Holding it hostage wasn’t my intent at all,” she said. “We just wanted to make sure we were following law.”
But a Health Department spokesman said that unlike shelters, the city “does not regulate rescue groups.”