DALLAS – The holidays were sad enough for Kim Velevis and her husband after their lovable pug "Scooter" dug its way out of the backyard and disappeared on Christmas Eve.
But the real blow came with the new year: A letter from an anonymous woman who had found the friendly dog and gave it to her daughter as a Christmas present. To compensate for Velevis' loss, a $20 bill was enclosed.
"The puppy has a different name now, but he has plenty of food and toys. My daughter adores him. He sleeps with her every night," said the letter, which arrived Wednesday.
Velevis, 28, said she feels for the guilt-ridden woman, who described herself as a nearly penniless alcoholic. But she wants the dog back.
"We knew the first thing our Scooter would have done is find people," Velevis said. "He must have wandered up to this sick lady who, in desperation and in an attempt to fix her own life, ruined ours."
Velevis, who is 5 1/2 months pregnant with her first child, said she and her husband brought the wrinkly faced pooch home in July 2006 when he was about 8 weeks old.
Scooter could still be nearby. The typewritten letter, which carried a Tulsa, Okla., postmark, said the woman found the dog while visiting her daughter in Dallas. She wrote that her ex-husband has custody of the girl.
The woman, who discovered an address on the pug's collar, described a series of difficulties in her life.
"I lost custody because of problems I had with alcohol, and I have lost everything else," she wrote. "I have been sober for 6 months, and I am trying to turn myself around, but I have lost everything. My little girl wanted a pug dog like your little dog (very much!)"
The woman wrote that she cannot ask for forgiveness, "but I do want you to know that he does have people who love him and are taking care of him."
Velevis said she has no interest in pursuing charges against the woman and would be glad to purchase the woman's daughter another dog.