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Dognapped Puppy Gets Returned to Santa Maria Animal Shelter

Surveillance video captured theft and animal lovers shared information on social media

A photo posted on the Santa Barbara Animal Services Facebook page shows reactions of staff and volunteers upon seeing Riley, a puppy who was dognapped last week from the Santa Maria shelter. Click to view larger
A photo posted on the Santa Barbara Animal Services Facebook page shows reactions of staff and volunteers upon seeing Riley, a puppy who was dognapped last week from the Santa Maria shelter. (Santa Barbara Animal Services photo)

A 7-month-old puppy stolen last week from the Santa Maria animal shelter has been returned.

“We're very happy that he's safely returned,” said Stacy Silva, the community outreach coordinator.

A local animal advocate, acting as an intermediary, returned Riley to the shelter on Wednesday, Santa Barbara County Animal Services representatives said. 

“Riley was immediately seen by the veterinary team at the Santa Maria Animal Center and despite having lost some weight he appears to be in good health,” county officials said in a written statement.

The dog was taken April 13 by a man captured on surveillance camera entering the facility on West Foster Road, visiting the dog kennels and leaving.

The suspect is later seen on video in the dog kennel area after entering from the rear of the property. Video showed the man carrying the dog to the tall fence, tossing the dog over and following it.

The video made authorities concerned about potential injuries to the puppy, which arrived at the shelter after being removed from a situation where dogs were kept in poor conditions.

Authorities do not believe prior owners were involved in the theft.

Animal Services staff posted information about the dognapping on its Facebook page Saturday morning along with video, as angry animal lovers quickly shared the news of the theft. 

“Santa Barbara County Animal Services would like to thank the community for their support during this time,” Animal Services representatives said. “Thousands of Facebook and other social media posts made a big impact to help with the safe return of Riley.”

Animal Services representatives also thanked the Santa Maria Police Department for its dedication to the case. 

“We look forward to finding Riley and all adoptable shelter animals their forever homes.”

In fact, Animal Services will host a “​clear the shelter” adoption event April 29 at all three county facilities which will offer adoptions for free.

“There really is no reason to steal an animal,” Silva said. “Our goal is to find the animals good homes.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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