WEST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There’s a disturbing twist in the story of a lost parrot belonging to one Long Island family.
Police now say the emotional support animal for a Mount Sinai mother was intentionally stolen from a pet store, reports CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
The heartbroken family of Sunny the parrot just learned it wasn’t an innocent mistake when their beloved bird went missing.
“We knew there was more to the story,” said Bill Niehoff of BTJ’s Jungle. “Things just weren’t adding up.”
The parrot was at the pet store being groomed when another customer nabbed it, carried it away, and told police it was an accident.
All charges were dropped, but then the mystery deepened.
“We got anonymous tips neighbors of the fella that the guy has the parrot,” said Niehoff.
Pet store owners called detectives with those tips, reiterating it would be curious to confuse a big bird box with a tiny one as that customer claimed. It was filled with mice intended for his pet snake.
Police have since reopened the case.
“The officer said that they did a thorough investigation and they found out that he had lied to them,” said Faris Furoogh, the parrot’s owner.
Police charged Paul Welch of Bay Shore with intentional theft of the bird, petit larceny, with a scheduled court date in February.
When asked if the bird was still alive, Welch said, “No, I have no comment.” He maintains the bird was taken by accident and it died in transport, refusing to explain further on camera.
Welch faces fines and possible jail time is found guilty of the theft.
The South American Quaker parrot can cost up to $1,000 and live as many as 30 years.
The Pet Store has found a replacement for Sunny: A baby parrot is being weaned and will be delivered to the Furooghs in time for Christmas.
“She wants to name it ‘Lucky’ because we’re lucky to have it,” said Faris.
Despite the uncertainty of Sunny’s fate, the Furoogh’s are now focusing on forgiveness.