EAST FELICIANA PARISH, LA — An unusual case involving a stray dog has escalated to include the arrest of a Livingston Parish woman. That’s because deputies claim she sold the purebred animal and knowingly lied about when questioned by investigators.
“Finders-keepers only works in elementary school,” Sgt. Kevin Garig, East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office, said. “This is a senseless case. Now a lot of people are going to jail for something that could have been avoided.”
Denham Springs resident Lori Williams is accused of selling a boerboel Mastiff for cash after she allegedly knew the owner was searching for it. She is charged for Illegal Possession of Stolen Things by the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“The exact amount she sold it for is not known at this time,” Sgt. Garig said. “She’s gone to great lengths to make this case a big deal.
“I gave her several chances to give the dog back,” he added. “I stressed to her several times on the phone that he [the owner] just wanted his dog back. We tried really hard to prevent this from going this far. But she refused to give the dog back.”
The dog was given to Williams by Kyle Holmes of East Feliciana after it wandered on his property back in May 2013. Holmes claims the dog was malnourished and dirty, so he took it in, cleaned it up and fed it. Although the dog had a collar, it did not have tags. He also claims to have searched for the owner by contacting neighbors, a local vet, and via posts on Facebook.
“I live on 26 acres of land. I don’t have too many neighbors, so when the dog showed up, I started contacting all of them,” Holmes explained in a past interview with NBC33. “We kept the dog for about 48 hours.”
Holmes claims that he was about to go out of town for a hunting trip, so he turned to Facebook for help.
“I posted a picture of the dog on Facebook and asked if anyone would be willing to take care of the dog while I was out of town,” Holmes told NBC33 News in a past interview. “My friend Lori [who lives in Watson] agreed to take him.”
As it turns out, Facebook became the key piece of evidence linking Williams to the crime.
“We acquired a search warrant for social media sites and phone records and we were able to obtain witnesses who were able to tell us where the dog was,” Sgt. Garig said. “Originally we turned to Facebook because it was going to be used to support their claims that they posted about the dog being missing.
“Our main goal is to find the truth, whatever it may be,” he added. “In no way are we trying to charge somebody for doing what was right.”
Holmes was first charged by the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office with felony Theft on May 28. Lawyer Philip House is representing Holmes and he tells NBC33 that charge has since been reduced to a misdemeanor. He also asserts that Holmes was unaware Williams sold the animal for money.
“Kyle had no knowledge that the dog was sold or what she told law enforcement,” House insisted. “He had no knowledge where the dog was, and he would have happily given it back had he known. Like most of the investigating officers, he assumed what she [Williams] told him was true.”
Sgt. Garig explained that the Sheriff’s office does not have evidence to support any conspiracy between Williams and Holmes. However, he stressed that the investigation is ongoing.
“The fact that Kyle refused to call the owner back for such a long time, and then he gave the wrong phone number at first, it looks like there’s a lot going on here,” he said. “Nobody knows for sure yet, but it doesn’t look good on his behalf. If he had called back right away, that would change things.”
A jury will ultimately determine whether or not Holmes was involved in the sale of the dog. House said the arraignment date has not been set as of yet.
As for the dog, he’s back home with his rightful owner. The animal was recovered by deputies on June 20. Sgt. Garig explained that the individual who purchased the dog was will not face any charges in this case.
“The individual who bought the dog had knowledge that an investigation was going on, but they did not know there was a criminal act,” he said.
Sgt. Garig also noted that it’s possible Williams could face additional charges related to this case.
“It is very unfortunate that there are people out there who wish to capitalize on the loss of others and in turn give a bad name to the people and agencies who have worked so hard to gain public support and truly have the best interest of the animals at heart,” he said. “People think of their dogs as more than just animals; they’re family.”