MANSFIELD — Lori Burns distributed flyers and knocked on neighbors’ doors in West Mansfield after she came home July 4 and found her Keeshond, Shelby, missing.

Burns suspected Shelby was scared by the fireworks, got out of her Smith Road home and broke through the electronic fence.

The owner was concerned because her 10-year-old pet has a host of health problems and needs post-surgery medication to avoid getting sick again.

Four days later, she received a phone call from a woman on a blocked number who claimed to have the dog.

“She said she found her, that she was healthy and safe and to stop looking for her because she was safe,” Burns said Thursday.

However, during a 12-minute phone conversation the woman refused to give Shelby back. Burns even offered the woman a reward or to buy her a dog, but she refused.

“She said no. That she was keeping her. That I abused the dog and she was not going to give her back to me,” Burns said.

Shelby was hospitalized two weeks ago, including two days in intensive care, for pancreatitis, gall bladder and liver failure. She also suffers from Cushing disease, Burns said.

“She said she was going to take the dog to the doctor,” Burns said, and asked what kinds of medication Shelby needed.

The woman grew angry, Burns said, and refused to talk with her. She spoke to Burns’ son and then a police officer who arrived at the house while he was still speaking with the woman.

“She hung up on the police officer and hasn’t called back since,” Burns said.

Police are investigating.

Police Chief Ron Sellon urged anyone with any information on Shelby’s whereabouts to call police, adding that he has a lot of empathy for the family.

“I know how much our dog means to our family,” Sellon said.

Despite the call, Burns said she and her family are still driving around and trudging through the woods looking for Shelby.

“It’s weird that she hasn’t been seen,” Burns said.

David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.

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