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Missing Dogs Found After Owner of Pet Boarding Facility Claimed She Put Them Down

ANGELS CAMP -- Animal services found two dogs that had gone missing after the owner of an Angels Camp pet boarding facility told the dogs' owner she had put them down.

Dogs Casper and Coco were found by Calaveras County Animal Services in the Pennsylvania Gulch Road area of Murphys. They have been positively identified and reunited with their owner, Steven Mendoza.

"I do not want another dog owner to go through what I did," a tearful Mendoza said. "They don't deserve it."

Now officials are searching for a third dog, Cici, who may still be in the area.

After losing his home in the Butte Fire, Mendoza turned to Pet Bath House to temporarily board his pets.

Things got increasingly complicated when he says Vonna Hughes, the owner of the grooming and boarding business, called him to admit that she had made a mistake that allegedly led to his pitbulls getting into a fight with other dogs at her business.

Mendoza reports he paid her for the damage and veterinarian bills that resulted from the fight. However, she told him she had his dogs killed after a second incident.

Police arrested Hughes on July 8 on suspicion of animal cruelty and illegally putting the dogs down, among other charges.

When the bodies of the dogs were not initially found, however, police began a search for Hughes' neighbor, Patti Guy, who they were told was allegedly caring for the dogs.

Now officers are investigating a lead and searching for Michael Rutt, who was reportedly there with Hughes when plans were made to "dispose of the dogs," according to the police department. Police say Rutt is also currently in violation of the terms of his release from incarceration and citizens should not try to approach him or take him into custody.

There is a $1,000 reward for Cici. If you happen to find Cici, you are encouraged to contact Angels Camp police.