Canine custody battle: Woman fears she will never see her pug, Lily, again

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - A Houston woman is convinced an animal rescue group, Pughearts of Houston, is holding her dog captive.

"She escaped from my backyard, so someone took her to the shelter, then Pughearts of Houston got my dog," Rhina Cantu said.

Cantu was recently diagnosed with cancer, and her husband is in the hospital with his own medical condition.

The pug, Lily, 7, has her own Facebook page.

The director of the nonprofit rescue group contends that the Cantu family has not presented enough evidence to prove that the dog in the animal rescue group's possession is Lily.

Friday, the director of the group, Cindy Rothermel, would not outline to Channel 2 exactly what kind of proof she was seeking.

The family has provided numerous photos of the dog to the rescue group but does not have medical records for the dog, and the dog is not microchipped.

"I'm never going to see Lily again," Cantu said.

A phone conversation with Rothermel did not yield progress Friday. Rothermel would not consent to the Cantu family examining the dog in the group's custody to further verify if it is Lily, nor would she allow a Channel 2 reporter to see the dog.

"She will be adopted, and go to another family. I'm worried," Cantu said.

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