PALATKA, Fla. -- Signs for a missing pet in Palatka hang from just about every street corner. Many see it as a plea for help but one thief saw it as an opportunity to make a quick buck.
Steven Pinder is plastering Palatka with posters for his missing dog. "It's like having your kid missing," said Pinder. "Anybody out there who owns pets knows we get so attached to them."
Hundreds of signs hang in downtown storefronts and streets. It would be hard to find someone who hasn't heard that Blue, a border collie/beagle mix, is missing. Pinder's three dogs escaped from the house last week. Blue's dad, Jack, was found injured. The family's other dog was discovered dead near a storage unit. The mystery surrounding the happy-go-lucky hound seemed to have cleared up Friday. The family got a call from someone claiming to have found Blue, safe and sound.
"I literally couldn't breath. I was so relieved and so excited that somebody had found him," said Pinder.
Pinder's relief was short lived. It was a hoax. Instead of Blue, he was met by a handful of men who he says tried to rob him of the reward money. The group threatened he'd never see Blue again if Pinder didn't pay up. Fearing for his son's safety, they got in the car and took off.
"I was completely oblivious to it. I really put myself, my son and our friend in grave danger."
With Blue's whereabouts still unknown, Pinder remains faithful the community will help find his four-legged best friend.
"There's two little girls in the neighborhood that have been riding their bikes around looking for the dog. They're not doing it for reward money, they're doing it because they're compassionate people."
If you see Blue, call 352-281-4669.