Navy vet says repossession company killed his family’s pets

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A Navy veteran moved to Indiana to be with family. But now he's mourning the deaths of his pets after he says his car was repossessed with the animals inside.

“The hurt and the sadness that I feel in addition to the anger is indescribable,” Denzel Smith said.

Smith and his girlfriend Savannah Denner moved from San Diego. Smith was in the Navy for six years before leaving the service in December.

"Just wanted to be closer to family, ended up hitting the road. She’d been wanting to get out of Cali for a minute, too," Smith said of Denner.

The couple was moving into their relative's home when Last Chance Wrecker picked up their black Jeep Wrangler. The couple was a month late on their car payments, and they registered the new address with their creditor.

"They said they were going to give us the chance to get caught up on payments because we were only a month behind," Smith said.

They were only inside a few minutes when the car was taken. Their bearded dragon lizard and buckets with their pet lobsters were inside the vehicle. The couple called the towing company, but said they were told they couldn't get the pets from the vehicle and would have to wait a few days for an appointment.

"When they came in they told us that both passed, and so I asked her if we would at least have the bodies, and she said they threw them away in the dumpster," Denner said.

Denner is a former veterinary technician. She said bearded dragons can play dead when they go into hibernation, and their heartbeat can be barely recognizable. It can take 30 minutes to wake them.

"We are quite sure that, that was the circumstance. There was no way they were dead," Denner said.

"I said, 'Oh, it's highly likely that she's not dead. She's probably on standby mode,'" Smith said he told the company. "I said, 'Can I go in the dumpster? I don't care how dirty it is—I have to get it. Does not matter.'" They told me no and get off their property.

They filed a police report with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), but they deemed it a civil matter.

The couple is weighing their next options and said they could sue the company. We briefly spoke with Last Chance Wrecker. The company admitted to repossessing the car, but could not speak further on the situation.

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