Dog sitter confesses to covering up death of family’s pet

HENDERSON (KTNV) — On Jan. 17, a small team supporting dog owner Christopher Melendez went out into the desert and asked unthinkable questions that yielded devastating answers about the fate of his family pet, a Shih Tzu named Teddy.

Mike Leishman and Michele Hood were part of this support team. Mike asked the questions. Michele recorded a video of it on her phone.

The truth about Teddy didn’t come easily to dog sitters Jessica Ramos and her husband Ivan Lezama Velazquez, who had several dogs in their care on the day Teddy died.

“You’re looking at the camera and you have to tell them what you did to that dog, what happened, and where you buried him,” Leishman said.

“We were (sic) taking care of this dog and he had a fight with another dog and died,” Lezama Velazquez said.

“They originally said the dogs were lost, some of them went to a park, one came back, and Teddy never did,” Hood said. She is part of the Las Vegas Doggie Task Force, a group of volunteers who track down and rescue lost dogs. She is also a sporting dog trainer and a licensed, insured pet sitter.

Hood says after a series of lies and hours spent looking for Teddy, she went with Melendez to confront the dog sitters at her home, where she made an audio recording of the confrontation:

jessica ramos “He died.”

Michele Hood: “What happened?”

Ramos: “He was fighting with one of the smaller dogs – same size as him.”

Hood: “Well wait, go back – I thought he was missing.”

Ramos: “No, he wasn’t missing.”

Hood: “So that’s why you lied?”

Ramos: “Yes I have. I am so sorry.”

“Through a few questions, she finally admitted that she didn’t actually lose our dog,” Melendez said, “that she also took care of a few other dogs in her care, and that my dog, Teddy, got into a fight with one.” of the other dogs.”

On the audio recording, Ramos continued: “And I guess the dog attacked him too much and that’s why he was dead.”

Hood: “Why didn’t you take him to a vet?”

Ramos: “Because he was already dead.”

Hood: “What kind of injuries did the dog have?”

Ramos: “bite holes.”

They wanted to know what the babysitters had done to Teddy’s body.

Lezama Velazquez led them to an area in the desert that Leishman describes as “on the way to the lake on the side of a berm” on the south shoulder of State Route 147 near mile 12.

We first met Mike and Jodi Leishman during a November 13 investigation.

“This is the nightmare you hope never happens,” Mike said, describing a “very similar scenario” to the Melendez family’s experience.

The Leishmans hired pet sitter Angelica Strickland to look after their dog, Louie, when they went on family vacations.

While Melendez found Teddy’s sitter on Instagram, the Leishmans found theirs through the Rover app.

Less than a day into her vacation, Jodi says: “I received a text message saying Rover is involved, there has been a domestic dispute at the house and my dog ​​is missing.”

And he was never found.

But because of Louie, the Leishmans are now entrenched in the Lost Dogs of Las Vegas community. So far, they’ve located 15 dogs who have either been reunited with their owners or rescued while roaming the desert.

And Mike was able to help Melendez find real answers.

In the cell phone video from the desert, Mike says to Lezama Velazquez: “They got into a fight. This dog was obviously injured very badly. So what did you do then? Tell us what you did after you found the dog.”

“He passed and I freaked out. I did not know, what I should do. And I ended up bringing him here,” Velazquez replies.

After about two hours of searching, they found Teddy’s body.

“I won’t deny that I got on my knees and cried,” Hood said.

She called the Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Division because the area where Teddy was dumped is federal land.

Rangers responded and temporarily detained Lezama Velazquez while they searched him to ensure he posed no threat.

He told the BLM a different story about Teddy’s condition than his wife had previously told Melendez, Hood, and Leishman at the couple’s home: Ramos claimed that Teddy died at the home.

The BLM law enforcement officer who filed the incident report wrote:

“He (Lezama Velazquez) told me about the effect, when they discovered the dog was injured, he put him in the car to take him to the vet, but that he died on the way. LEZAMA VELAZQUEZ told me of the effect of he panicked when the dog died and took him onto public land to dispose of by burying him in the wash near mile 12 on SR 147. LEZAMA VELAZQUEZ told me that his wife’s name is Jessica RAMOS and that RAMOS usually posts dog ads online. LEZAMA VELAZQUEZ told me that they run the dog sitting business from their home.”

Lezama Velazquez was not arrested but received two subpoenas for illegal dumping and removing or destroying personal property.

As reported by 13 investigations, dogs are considered property in the state of Nevada.

Now Melendez is focused on additional accountability and seeking justice for Teddy.

He filed a report with the Henderson Police Department along with screenshots of Ramos’ business on social media. On January 19, Henderson Business Licensing issued a work freeze because you can’t run a pet business from your home in Henderson.

The Henderson City Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing three possible criminal charges filed by Henderson Animal Control, including violating animal facilities, exceeding the allowable number of animals and failure to provide adequate food, water or veterinary care.

Animal rights activists hope that after Louie – and after Teddy – all local government agencies will move to better protect animals with specialized licensing, training and oversight for pet-related services.

“We have to stop!” shouted Hood. “How many times does that have to happen?!”

Thirteen investigators spoke to Ramos and Lezama Velazquez on the phone, requesting interviews.

Ramos replied: “I can’t say anything.”

Lezama Velazquez also declined to comment, but said, “I know what I did was wrong.”

We checked Facebook and found that Ramos has either hidden or deleted her page. On Instagram, she posted that “Jessysdoggie’s boarding and training is now closed forever.”

The Las Vegas City Council recently failed to pass an ordinance that would have imposed stricter regulations and requirements for pet service businesses, but Councilwoman Victoria Seaman is drafting a new ordinance for consideration.

Clark County has no specific requirements for pet sitters, and there are no plans to add more to the current county code.

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