An Indianapolis man is behind bars for allegedly stealing a dog and scamming several owners with a bizarre dog “flipping” scheme.
IMPD and Animal Control officers arrested 55-year-old Johnny Jones after they discovered the convicted felon was in possession of firearms and responsible for a dog theft.
Marcus Brown, Deputy Chief of Animal Control, said Jones had been posing as a dog trainer in order to gain owners’ trust and then either take their dogs or use them to breed with his own in order to turn a profit.
Ben Eiler is one of those owners. Eiler loves his German Shepherd, Ceazer, but says he turned to Jones in January after posting a Craigslist ad seeking a home for his dog while he and his wife tried to find a new place to live.
“We could not find a place with what little bit of money we had, that we could take Ceazar with us,” Eiler said.
Eiler said Jones claimed to be a certified dog trainer who cared for and specialized in German Shepherds.
“He claimed he had five of them at home that he was training,” Eiler said. “He just said that he would be very willing to take him and take care of him and if we got on our feet one day we could come and get him back.”
Instead, Jones gave Eiler and his wife a fake address and then stopped answering his phone. Soon Eiler began getting flooded with calls from complete strangers. He discovered that Jones had started posting fake Craigslist ads promising free animals with Eiler’s number attached.
“So many people called that it flooded our phone, and our voicemail ended up being full,” Eiler said. “You know, besides the fact of being upset, we were now being harassed.”
Eiler called Animal Control and officers soon found that Jones was trying to turn a profit on Ceazar.
“He actually had listed their animal on Craigslist for sale,” Brown said.
When officers closed in, Jones almost got away.
“The dog was dumped on the street, and picked up fortunately by a Good Samaritan,” Brown said. “That Good Samaritan went to an animal clinic to go have the animal checked and looked at.”
According to Animal Control, the key to the case was that Eiler had Ceazer microchipped, so when the Good Samaritan brought him in they could connect the dog to the theft.
“If we didn’t have that we probably wouldn’t have Ceazer right now,” Eiler said.
Officers might not have been able to put Jones behind bars either. IMPD conducted a search warrant and found the felon to be in illegal possession of guns and four dogs, two of which didn’t belong to him, they said.
Ben said he’s simply glad those owners were reunited before it was too late.
“When we lost him it was like losing a family member,” Eiler said. “You know, it was like getting reunited with our son.”