VALLEY SPRINGS -- An 80-year-old Rancho Calaveras man has been inundated with offers of financial help after he used roughly half of his life savings to pay a $10,000 ransom for his dog.

Phone calls have been pouring in from throughout California and across the nation from people wanting to help Frank Compton recoup his savings, which he tapped to pay someone who claimed to have his dog -- a 10-year-old terrier mix named Sandy.

"I'm very much surprised," Compton said of the response. "It's reached beyond my wildest imagination."

Compton's strange story began unfolding July 20, when Sandy turned up missing after the two returned from a neighborhood walk. He put up some fliers the next morning and got a call that afternoon from someone demanding $10,000 for Sandy's release.

The caller threatened to kill the dog if he didn't pay up, Compton said.

Compton withdrew the money and met the caller at a fish hatchery near Clements. There, he gave a man the money, but there was no sign of Sandy.

After Compton looked for several hours, he returned home. Later that day, Sandy appeared in his back yard.

Since the story surfaced, dozens of people have contacted Compton, the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department and media outlets with financial-aid offers.

"I can't help much," E.L. Peek of Stockton said Friday. "But I can help some."

The county's Adult Protective Services office has set up a fund at a Valley Springs bank to accept donations on Compton's behalf. Maggie Neckels, a social worker with the protective-services office, said she's received "a whole lot of messages, mostly from people wanting to give him some money.