Dudley, N.C. — A new puppy always brings excitement. They're small, cute and so much fun.
With his lanky legs and black masked face, Mark Olexa's new little boxer puppy has Olexa wrapped around his little paws.
But Griffey is not the first boxer pup Olexa and his fiancee picked out. They bought another puppy they named Griffey in July from Rob Millard of Dudley, in Wayne County.
They hooked up through Craigslist. After seeing the puppy, they paid Millard $300.
"We went to the ATM right there and gave him cash, he wrote me a receipt." said Olexa. "At that point I'm like I'm going to have a puppy on Sunday! We were just excited."
But the puppy needed a flea treatment, so drop-off was delayed a week.
When delivery day arrived, so did text-messaged excuses from Millard. Olexa said in the first message, Millard said he was at church, "after that he texted me and said, Umm, I had car trouble.'"
Olexa says Millard promised to bring the dog the next day, but that afternoon Olexa got shocking news.
"He texted me, 'I'm so sorry, but I killed the puppy. It was that flea medicine that I put on,'" said Olexa of the text.
He and his fiancee are just one of three area families heartbroken when puppies they paid Millard for never showed up.
Phil Morris told 5 On Your Side he paid $300 for a puppy that Millard told him died of parvo. Brian Bland paid a $100 deposit for another boxer Millard didn't deliver.
They call contacted 5 On Your Side when Millard wouldn't refund their money.
Since the phone numbers Millard provided are now disconnected, we went to his home in Dudley. We counted at least nine dogs. Millard said they belong to someone else. He said he is not a breeder but was just selling one litter of his pet boxer.
"I was going to sell them, just that one time," said Millard. "They all got parvo and passed away."
When we asked what he did with the money the families had paid him, Millard said, "I put the money in the bank. I mean I paid bills and stuff."
He added, "when I get the money, I'll send them their money back. It wasn't meant to be like it happened, and I told them all I'm terribly sorry."
Millard then ended the interview, saying he didn't want to be on TV.
While Mark Olexa is thrilled with his new puppy, he and the other customers don't buy Millard's story.
"I'm out $300 and we have no idea what the actual situation is."
If you're looking to buy a puppy, the American Kennel Club has some advice:
- Always see the dog you plan to buy in person.
- Visit the breeder's facility or the home of the person selling it.
- Check references. Contact others who have purchased pets from the seller and the veterinarian the seller works with.