Did neighbors cross the line taking owner's dog they believed was abused?

TACOMA -- A group of South Sound neighbors and strangers took the law into their own hands to save a dog they thought was being neglected and abused.

They took the dog out of its own back yard and rushed it to a vet for help, but the fate of the dog and her owner is still up in the air.

Animal Control said someone dropped off the lab-mix named Kiki at The Humane Society on Monday afternoon. But the dog is no longer at the shelter and now investigators have their hands full trying to figure it all out.

“The dog was clearly starving and in really bad shape so we got a group of us and go over there,” said Autumn Niesz-Ramos, who admitted to taking Kiki.

Kiki’s family said she’s been living in her backyard.

A concerned neighbor took pictures of the dog, looking neglected and malnourished, and later posted them Facebook along with the address where Kiki lived. That’s when strangers showed up to take the animal.

“The dog could barely stand up she was so weak,” said Niesz-Ramos. “She was shaking, she was so cold.”

Construction workers working inside Kiki’s yard said they witnessed four strangers come in to the backyard and dognap Kiki.

“I turn around and I see four people,” said Keith No. “As they saw me walking up to them, they actually snatched the dog out, cut the chain and walked off.”

Steven Lee Jr. said Kiki belongs to his father, and admitted that the dog isn’t healthy.

“She wasn’t in good shape,” said Lee, “There’s something wrong.”

Niesz-Ramos said she wasn’t going to wait for Animal Control to respond; she planned to give Kiki the help she believe the dog needed. Niesz-Ramos said veterinarians also told her that Kiki was in bad shape.

“They said when I got there that the chain was imbedded in his neck because it had been on so long, so tight,” she said. “I don’t think I stole her, I think I saved her.”

But Kiki is not being held at the Humane Society; her owner likely already picked her up.

Animal Control said the only way they could take possession of Kiki is if they either had a warrant or they believed she was being abused.

So far their investigation is still ongoing.