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Houston area animal rescuer facing potential charge in dog custody battle

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HOUSTON – A Harris County District Court judge has ordered a Houston-area animal rescuer to appear in court and explain inconsistencies in her testimony regarding a dog.

For months, Cindy Rothermel, CEO of PugHearts of Houston, refused to give Rhina Cantua, who has cancer, her pug back. The pug had gotten lost, someone turned it over to a local shelter, then PugHearts took possession of it.

When Cantu realized PugHearts of Houston had her dog, she attempted to get it back, but she was not successful until she sued Rothermel and PugHearts of Houston.

At first, Rothermel claimed on the stand the dog had been adopted out of state. Her lawyer even submitted paperwork supposedly proving it, but the adoption story, under scrutiny, seemingly revealed inconsistencies in her testimony.

A few weeks ago, Cantu got her dog back.

The civil lawsuit continues, and the judge has raised the possibility that Rothermel could be criminally prosecuted if the inconsistencies amount to perjury.

In court Friday, Rothermel would not answer questions about the matter, but a criminal attorney representing her said any allegations of perjury are "wholly inaccurate."