DALLAS - The holidays were sad enough for Kim Velevis after her lovable pug "Scooter" dug its way out of the back yard and disappeared. But the real blow came with the new year: A letter from an anonymous woman who found the friendly dog and gave it to her daughter as a Christmas present. To compensate for Velevis' loss, a $20 bill was enclosed.
"The puppy has a different name now, but he has plenty of food and toys. My daughter adores him. He sleeps with her every night," said the letter, which arrived Wednesday.
Velevis, 28, said she feels for the guilt-ridden woman, who describes herself as a near penniless alcoholic. But she wants the dog back.
"We knew the first thing our Scooter would have done is find people," Velevis said. "He must have wandered up to this sick lady who, in desperation and in an attempt to fix her own life, ruined ours."
Velevis and her husband, Rob, returned from running errands on Christmas Eve to find Scooter gone. He has a doggy door into the backyard and escaped under a fence.
The couple and their neighbors spent the day searching for the pug, with no luck.
Velevis, 5 1/2 months pregnant with her first child, said the dog is good with children. They brought the wrinkly faced pooch home in July 2006 when he was about 8 weeks old.
"He's got the best personality, he really does," Velevis said. "He wants to be near people. He's a ton of fun. He's just the funniest little creature ever."
The purloined pug could still be nearby. The typewritten letter, which carried a Tulsa, Okla., postmark, says the woman found the dog while visiting her daughter in Dallas. She wrote that her ex-husband has custody of the girl.
The woman, who discovered an address on the pug's red collar, describes a series of difficulties leading to the dognapping.
"I lost custody because of problems I had with alcohol, and I have lost everything else. I am an educated person, but I lost my job and my home," she wrote. "I have been sober for 6 months, and I am trying to turn myself around, but I have lost everything. My little girl wanted a pug dog like your little dog (very much!)"
The woman wrote that she cannot ask for forgiveness "but I do want you to know that he does have people who love him and are taking care of him."
Velevis said she has no interest in pursuing charges against the woman, and would be glad to purchase the woman's daughter another dog.
"That's our little boy, and I'm sure he's having a great time with this little girl, and he's got so much love to give," she said. "But he doesn't belong to them. We just want him home."