Norman resident wants stolen dog back home

Norman resident Ann Hall and her dog Milo before he was stolen from her home on May 31. Hall adopted Milo, an Australian Shepard mix, from Friends of the Shelter Feb. 14, 2018.

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Ann Hall lost her dog Milo last month, but Milo didn’t go missing.

She claims two women stole her Australian Shepard mix in her South Norman home.

Ann Hall, Norman resident, filed a police report stating two women stole her dog, Milo.

Hall said the incident occurred around 5 p.m. May 31 while Hall and her family were in Orlando. Hall’s security footage shows suspects, who police have identified as Farah Snider and Lacey Mercurio, walking onto her front porch, looking into the window, pointing to the back gate, driving Snider’s black Hyundai to the back gate, going into the backyard, walking Milo to the vehicle and putting Milo in the back seat before driving away.

While Hall was on vacation, her mom was watching both Milo and Kylo, the family’s second dog that was not stolen, but the back gate stays unlocked for residential utilities and maintenance. When Hall’s mom left for the day the suspects were able to enter through the back gate and called Milo out from his dog door that connects to the house.

Though the suspects have been named, no arrests have been made.

Snider, president for the Friends of the Shelter Foundation dog rescue in Newcastle, and Mercurio, volunteer at the foundation, have outstanding warrants for their arrest on three charges: larceny of dogs, trespassing after being forbidden and conspiracy.

Norman Public Safety Information Officer Sarah Jensen said dog thefts are not common in Norman and NPD has not received similar reports. She said NPD had no interactions with Snider or Mercurio prior to the incident.

“Based on the investigation into this particular incident, it was apparent that the two individuals did not have permission to enter the residence or remove the dog from the property,” Jensen said.

Hall signed a contract and adopted Milo from Friends of the Shelter Foundation Feb. 14, 2018. She said this is probably why Snider and Mercurio were able to call Milo out of his dog door and why he willingly went with them.

She said Milo would get out frequently, because her two young daughters open and shut doors constantly. Hall said she was concerned about the $500 animal control fee for her dog running out all of the time and contacted Mercurio for resources on how to fix this.

“So, I called [Mercurio] on that day, it was May 18, three days before we were going to leave, Hall said. “I said, ‘This is the situation and I need some help.’ To my surprise, the first thing [Mercurio] said was, ‘Ann, I don’t think your house is ideal for him. I think I need to come and get him.’ That just shocked me because I just called her for help, I didn’t expect her to say, ‘Hey are you returning him?’”

Mercurio eventually convinced Hall to give Milo back, because he ran away too frequently. Hall made an arrangement with Mercurio over text message to have Milo picked up on May 21, because she wanted time to say goodbye, process and potentially change her mind.

“I have invested so much emotionally and financially in this dog,” Hall said. “I mean this is the kind of dog that I would watch my kids grow up with.”

Mercurio told Hall she would need to let Snider know since she is the president of the foundation. Hall said at one point Snider was okay with the arrangement.

“Then Farah called me later and this is where the call just went bad, she said basically I am unfit to be Milo’s Mom and I allow him to get out all of the time, that I don’t go after him, that I cause his life to be in danger and everything.” Hall said. “She said she didn’t want anything to happen between then and May 21 and she’s going to come get the dog right now.”

Hall said she was shaken, because she didn’t expect that kind of conversation, so she hung up on Snider.

“I called [Mercurio] and I said, ‘You know, no matter how hard it is I’m keeping my dog. I’m going to keep Milo and you guys just leave me alone.’”

Hall originally posted about the incident on Facebook because, she said, Officer Brian Billie, the officer on this case, already contacted Snider and she denied everything. Hall’s attorney advised she take it to Facebook to have the suspects identified. That caused a stir with some members of the community, some of which raised concerns about other dogs they claim Snider stole.

Snider denies any wrongdoing.

“I do feel that it has snowballed so far out of control, that the keyboard warriors are making things very difficult for my fellow volunteers by posting their personal information like home address, where they work, people have been calling their places of employment and harassing them in that way, posted photos of our homes,” Snider said. “It’s putting us in a risky situation, because there are a lot of crazy people in this world that are going to believe anything that is on the internet and could show up at our homes to cause problems.”

Snider claims Hall’s account is inaccurate.

“If you read through her Facebook posts, she even contradicts herself several times, but the bottom line is that she asked to return the dog to our rescue, which is part of our adoption agreement,” Snider said. “If at any point and time you can no longer care for the dog for whatever reason they come back to our rescue and she agreed to do that. And things have, for whatever reason, spiraled.”

According to the Oklahoma State Courts Network, neither Snider nor Mercurio has a prior criminal record.

“I have never stolen a dog. No, we run a dog rescue, and as I am hoping you’re aware, our shelters stay full all of the time across the state,” Snider said. “That’s our focus, we actually focus on the small town rural shelters like Newcastle where we are based out of.”

Hall said she has confirmed and reported similar alleged victims’ accounts and Officer Billie is working with their information to compile a case to turn over to District Attorney Greg Mashburn’s Office.

Though Hall said she wants to see Snider make amends to her and other dog owners, she said her main goal is getting Milo home.

“I want my dog back, “ she said. “That’s my priority.”