South Florida couple accused of kidnapping French bulldog, blackmailing owner

MARATHON, Fla. — A South Florida couple is accused of kidnapping a French bulldog and demanding a $1,000 ransom for the animal’s return, authorities said.

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Reinier Fuentes, 33, and Lilianne Dominguez, 26, both of Miami, were charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Sailor, an 18-month-old French bulldog belonging to Patti Rhine of Marathon, went missing after she was let out from her Florida Keys home at about 1 p.m. EDT on June 25, the Miami Herald reported.

“She never runs anywhere,” Rhine told the Herald. “We saw her on camera as she walked down to the end of the street to go potty and she never came back.”

Rhine, whose husband is a Marine veteran and relies on Sailor as a service dog, said she received a telephone call, according to WFOR-TV.

The caller told Rhine that if they did not get the ransom, she would never see Sailor again.

“Then they started playing mental games,” Rhine said Tuesday in an interview with the Herald. “They were horrible.”

Adam Linhardt, a spokesman for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said that the couple told the Rhine they would meet her in Miami on June 26 to give her the dog back in exchange for the money, WPLG-TV reported.

However, the sheriff’s office said that Fuentes and Dominguez kept “changing locations and claiming they wanted to keep the dog.”

The couple told Rhine to go to the Dadeland Mall in Kendall, the Herald reported. Rhine was trailed by Monroe County sheriff’s detectives, who then spoke to Miami-Dade police officers.

Police were going to use a female undercover officer to pose as Rhine and approach the couple to make the exchange, but when she did not show up, Rhine said she was tired of waiting.

“I’m going to get my dog,” Rhine told the Herald. “They were just extorting me. I’m not a confrontational person.”

When the exchange was made, police officers surrounded Fuentes and Dominguez and arrested them, according to the newspaper.

“My husband is not happy with me,” said Rhine, who later learned that one of the dognappers had a gun.

Fuentes and Dominguez were taken to the Miami-Dade Jail on Monday but have since posted bail, according to online booking records.