SAN BERNARDINO - The tale of goodwill and compassion reuniting a dog and its owner has taken a very different turn.

David Thomas, the San Bernardino man who couldn't afford the fees tied to getting his dog, Buzz Lightyear, out of the San Bernardino Animal Shelter, and Maria Sanchez, the woman who through a Facebook plea to animal lovers received donations from people across the country who wanted to help Thomas and his dog, have had a falling out over the money raised for Thomas and Buzz.

According to Thomas, Sanchez refused to give him the remainder of the donations after Sanchez reimbursed herself for the money she put up to help save Buzz.

"I reimbursed myself with what I had paid out," Sanchez wrote on the social media network. "The $842.07 for the shelter fees, vet and PetSmart shopping spree that I put onto my personal credit card."

Thomas, however said Sanchez had no right to go on a spree for his dog without at least consulting him.

"I have three leashes now," Thomas said in a phone interview Thursday night. "The vet bills were about $750 to $800. Buzz didn't need all those squeaky toys and stuff like that."

Sanchez wrote she had a discussion with Thomas about the remainder of the donations and how he would like to spend them.

She told him that every dime donated would go to him and Buzz, but that she wouldn't give him cash.


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"I explained to him that the money that was donated was a blessing for him and I wanted to be sure that we respected that and used the donations responsibly," Sanchez added. "He sat next to me and nodded his head. ..."

She went on to say in the Facebook post she suggested Thomas pay off his fines, but Thomas said that never happened.

"She never paid any fines," he said. "There aren't any fines - well maybe a jaywalking fine. But I paid for them with my time in jail."

Sanchez said she tried to contact Thomas and that a woman claiming to be his wife answered the phone.

"She screamed at me saying I was stealing their dog's money," Sanchez said. "She said they have called the news stations and that if I did not give them their money, they were going to call the police."

She said she contacted the donors and gave them the option of reimbursement, but they all told her to use it to save another dog for another needy family.

Thomas said Thursday night he was fine with the money being returned to donors but was mostly upset over Sanchez's online accusations of drug use.

"I will not be giving Dave or his wife one single penny, what I will do is refund the money that was donated to Dave," she wrote. "I have had my life and the lives of my children devastated by drug addiction. I will play no part in supporting anyone's habit. I just can't."

Thomas said he was arrested by San Bernardino police for outstanding traffic citations, but police Lt. Paul Williams said Thomas was suspected of possessing drugs for sale.

"He wasn't arrested for speeding tickets," Williams said. "He was arrested for a felony crime."

Thomas said officers did find marijuana when they searched him but that he has a medical marijuana card and that the charges were going to be dropped.

A search of court records showed no charges have been filed against Thomas for the Feb. 13 arrest.

"She slandered us," Thomas said. "My son called me asking me about being a drug addict. My son won't talk to me anymore because of it."

While Thomas and his wife are still upset over the situation, he said he is grateful to have Buzz back.

"The money would've been nice but the most important thing is because of all the wonderful people and their help we have Buzz back. I'm just sorry it had to end this way."

Some people following the story support Thomas.

"One of the things about managing charitable funds is that one has to be diplomatic, handle things with care, and remain personally distant," Travin McKain said in a Facebook post. "Especially in tough situations like this, it's the only way to avoid serious problems. However, Maria decided to seek revenge. Paraphrasing, she said now since he 'pulled this stunt' she won't help him. That's just cold blooded, petty and vengeful."