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Stolen Dogs Recovered

A couple weeks ago, we jumped into help a neighbor’s nephew whose two Malamutes were stolen from a Wal-Mart parking lot in Ukiah, California. Here is the back-story of their recovery, as far as we can piece together.

Many Thanks

First, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped spread the word about Cesar and Maya’s plight … via email, Facebook, and Twitter. At last check, nearly 70,000 people accessed our page on the stolen dogs, including the regular updates on sightings (confirmed, credible, or reported).

It took some doing to get the word out, and we’ll likely never know if it made a real difference in the dogs’ recovery on Friday, July 1, but here are details on:

  • What we know / suspect
  • Answers to the big questions

Why were the dogs in the parking lot to begin with? Wasn’t it too HOT?

They were in the back of a truck, which had on it a camper “shell.” Windows for ventilation were left open. Their owner ran in to grab a few things.

It was EVENING in Northern California. Temps around 60 degrees, so no … not sweltering hot.

Where were the stolen dogs were found?

Some way, some how, they ended up in the local Ukiah animal shelter.

This is strange … because earlier in the day (Friday, July 1) there were numerous, seemingly credible reports of the dogs in Panhandle Park in San Francisco. These are HUGE, unusual dogs (120-160 pounds each). So, they are NOT easy to hide.

One person who reported seeing them regularly drives throughout San Francisco. When asked if he had any details of the suspects, he said with a chuckle, “No. I was just staring at those dogs! I’ve been working this route for 15 years and I know I’ve never seen those dogs in this area before. Heck, I’ve never seen dogs that big!”

However, later that same day, the family tells me: “It’s unclear as to if the dogs changed hands a couple times or not, but they were spotted mid/late afternoon in Ukiah and that person immediately called the police (who apparently refused to show up…). This and/or them saying so many people were looking for those dogs scared the kids that had them, so they dropped them off at the shelter. It would be nice to have had the people there to deal with, but at least the dogs are safe!”

The use of the term “kids” is being used loosely here … because the suspects in the dog theft were relatively young men (estimated between 18-25 years old).

Were the suspects caught?

No. And the professional skeptic in me says they like won’t be.

How did they end up back in Ukiah?

It’s possible that all the social media reports and regular media reports that flooded the area in the days after the abduction:

  • Maybe made the thieves nervous, especially after detailed physical descriptions and possible names / street names came out
  • Maybe led to them taking the dogs back to the general area of the crime to release them

The family tells me that the shelter didn’t have much information to share about how the dogs ended up there.

There is a chance that all the reports were completely false and that the dogs NEVER were outside of the general Ukiah area, I suppose.

So, I wish we knew the REAL story, but all we have are pieces:

  • The dogs ended up in a local shelter
  • The dogs appear to be no worse for wear
  • The family is just happy to have them home

Happy Family Again

When I heard their owner was making a b-line home from San Francisco (his girlfriend had already picked the dogs up at the Ukiah shelter), I put in a plug for some sort of spontaneous reunion video to share.

Yes, I’m a little obsessive like that.

But, I can share this single photo of Dan and the dogs reunited.


best dog blog champion of my heart
Cesar, Dan, and Maya … reunited


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Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

the zoo - July 15, 2011

Im glad theyre back home and safe.

Hanna at Dog Products - July 12, 2011

I first want to say that I’m ever so glad that the two stolen dogs were found and then returned to their owners. I can only imagine how devastated everyone concerned (dogs and their owners) must have been.

But then I have to say that people should always keep in mind that there is a very fine balance between those who treat their dogs like children and those who treat them like animals. I think that pet dogs are wonderful creatures between these two entities. In other words, they are not kids but they are also not merely animals and so we should treat them accordingly.

And leaving dogs alone in a car, even when the temperature is cool and there is plenty ventilation; is not something I would ever do any more than I would leave young children under similar circumstances.

Candy Blakeslee - July 11, 2011

Oh how we wish the dogs could talk! Glad they are home safe and sound.

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