Friday, March 28, 2014 | 9:30 p.m.
Kristi Liddle cooed and coaxed the trembling 2-pound dog, an unwitting Las Vegas celebrity, arson survivor, and sought-after prize since going up for raffle at a local shelter on Sunday.
The white Maltese mix, temporarily named "Fia" by employees at Lied Animal Shelter, is one of 25 puppies who were rescued from a January 27 pet shop fire allegedly carried out by their owner and an acquaintance of hers. Now, the animals are all getting homes after they were caught in an ownership battle that captured the attention of animal rights activists and news outlets across the country.
"I saw the story in the news, and when I saw her face, I just knew she had to be a part of our family," Liddle said. "I'm just so, so happy to get to show her what it's like to be in a good home."
After receiving thousands of inquiries from people wanting to adopt the 25 puppies, the Animal Foundation opened a raffle by posting photos and descriptions of the dogs on its website and offering $250 tickets for a drawing to adopt each one. Raffle winners were then vetted by volunteers; money paid by ticket holders who didn't get dogs went to subsidizing other adoptions at the shelter.
The two older dogs are being cared after by A Home 4 Spot, a private animal rescue group.
"Our goal all along has been to get these puppies — all of our animals — to happy homes," said Rachel Wright, a spokeswoman for the shelter.
"It has been really great to see people come out and see what we're all about."
Besides Liddle, another five people bought tickets to adopt Fia; at least three people bought tickets for each of the 25 pups.
The shelter united the first dog with a family on Thursday morning, and by Friday at least 12 of the animals were in new homes.
Liddle's husband, Brian Liddle, said the couple had been to Lied before, but they hadn't met the right dog until his wife saw Fia's photo.
Fia cowered nervously in her new owner's arms as the couple perused the last of the shelter's paperwork on Friday. The puppy had just been introduced to the other Liddle dog, a 9-year-old Maltese named "Maggie" who seemed uninterested in the family addition.
"(Fia) was a little anxious to meet her big sister," Liddle said. "They're going to be the best of friends. They just don't know it yet."