Family scammed while trying to find their dog, but 17 days later Max is finally home. Welcome home Max!
FOR SOME a dog is just a dog, for others it is family.
Max, an 8-year-old Swiss Shepherd dog, went missing on Wednesday evening 25 May 2022 at approximately 20:30. According to his owner, Quinton Schaefer, he parked his vehicle at home, but Max did not come to the vehicle’s door as he normally would.
“Both the electrical gates were busy closing and I did not realise that Max slipped out quickly and it was not normal behaviour for him to do so”. Schaefer said that when he realised that the dog was missing, he immediately got into his vehicle and went looking for him, but could not find him. “My wife Angelique also went looking for Max all over, but he was gone,” said Schaefer.
Schaefer said that they immediately started the task of finding their missing family member. “I phoned the SPCA to inform them about my dog being missing, giving them a description of how he looks”.
Schaefer gave compliments towards the SPCA for the assistance they gave him. The SPCA called him about dogs that came in looking like Max, but it wasn’t him.
“We advertised in the DFA with a reward for R4,000, in the hope that someone would see him and bring him back to us”.
According to Schaefer, they received several calls from people who spotted the dog, but when they went there, it was not Max. “I even went to the Kimberley SAPS as well as the Roodepan SAPS offices to take a photo of Max, because just maybe someone would spot him”.
“During this time, our family struggled”. My three children were in tears everyday asking if there was any news regarding Max, but there was none,” said Shaefer. Then on the 6th of June he received a whatsapp from Brandon. Brandon claimed he stayed in Kimberley, not far from where the Schaefers lived. He said that he had their dog and even sent them a photo of Max. When Schaefer looked at the photo of the dog, it indeed looked like Max. Brandon then asked Schaefer for a R500 deposit to show him that he is serious about getting his dog back. Schaefer said that he can’t just send money without seeing his dog, but Brandon was adamant that he first wanted a deposit before he would send any more pictures to Schaefer.
According to Schaefer, he then agreed to pay Brandon R250. After the payment was made, the phone number was offline. “I knew then that I was scammed,” said Schaefer. This type of scam is so big that Carte Blanche ran a feature about it one Sunday evening. People will pay lots of money to get their animal back.
While writing the story I remembered about Google reverse image search, so I started investigating a bit further. The image that was sent to Schaefer came from a website called www.bculinarylab.com where the Swiss Shepherd dogs were on a 50 percent clearance sale. It was a splitting image of Max. Any owner who is emotionally distraught and sees a photo of his dog, will do anything to get him back, even pay money over without seeing the dog in real life.
“Seventeen days after Max went missing we received a call from Colleen Mills that Max was seen at the Newton Reservoir, next to Northern Cape High School”. “When I got there, there was a netball team busy practising on the Northern Cape High school Netball field, they were the people who spotted Max”, said Schaefer. According to Schaefer, when he called Max, he turned around but was very cautious, he called again, and when Max realised who it was, he came running towards him. Colleen Mills was one of the netball players who phoned Schaefer. Mills, who is part of the Reds netball team said that Schaefer paid them the R4,000 reward. “We will now use the R4,000 to upgrade our match outfits”, said Mills.
The Schaefer family was clearly happy that Max was finally at home, safe and sound. “The children shouted and cried when they heard that Max was found”, Schaefer said. “We took Max to the vet for observation. He lost 9 kilograms in the 17 days and had an injured back and front leg”. While taking a photo of Max and his family, one could clearly see that he was home, giving kisses to his human family. This was one story that had a happy ending. Welcome home Max.