It began with a viral video posted to social media: Nicholle Bem's desperate cry for help after her 9-year-old chihuahua disappeared from her home on New Year's Eve.
Bem says Dash got loose while she was setting up for a party. The next 11 days were consumed by the search for the missing pup.
"I needed help. He was gone and I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel," she said.
Bem posted the dog's photo in neighborhood watch apps, hired a private pet detective and canvased local neighborhoods with signs. But she heard nothing, even after offering a $500 reward.
"I was freaking out, absolutely losing my mind," she said.
It wasn't until she upped the stakes that she heard anything. Eleven days into the search, Bem raised her reward offer to $3,500, and within hours, she was connected to the person who had her dog.
"I got an anonymous call," Bem said. "I answered, and the first thing the person says is 'I’m not gonna give you my name or number, but I know who has your dog and I'm going to give you his name and number and address and you’re going to call and if you give him the $3,500, he’ll give you your dog back within the hour.'"
Bem says she knows money was a "major motivator" in her case, and not everyone can afford to offer so much for their furry friends.
And that's where Carole Chapuis comes in.
Chapuis owns a local pet rescue and has dedicated her life to saving animals, so when Bem called her about Dash, she was eager to help in any way she could.
Chapuis spread the word by sharing Bem's story, but now she's taking things one step further with a unique business. She is now selling her own private label hot sauce, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go towards saving animals, which includes covering the reward fees for people whose pets have gone missing.
"If you don’t have the money, it’s going to be hard for some people [to get their pets back]," Chapuis said.
But she's hoping to change that one bottle of hot sauce at a time.
"I know this is going to take off because this is the key to animal rescue, and animal rescue is not cheap," Chapuis said.
Her hot sauces are now available for purchase at local businesses like Woof Gang Bakery and the Pirates Well Restaurant and Bar. You can learn more by clicking here.