When a van carrying 14 show dogs on their way to a dog show was stolen outside a Redding fast food restaurant, police began a desperate search for the van, and the beloved dogs inside. Miraculously, all 14 dogs were found safe the following day.
On Wednesday, dog handler Tony Carter and his assistant were driving a van loaded with 14 show dogs from Seattle, Washington to Vallejo, California when they stopped at a Redding In-n-Out fast food restaurant to grab a bite to eat.
Kent parked the van directly in front of the busy restaurant and left the vehicle running with the air conditioner turned on to keep the dogs cool. When he returned, approximately 3 minutes later, the van – and 14 dogs inside – were gone.
Carter immediately contacted Redding Police who began an exhaustive search for the van and the dogs. Surrounding agencies were notified of the theft along with the California Highway Patrol Air Operations Division.
About 10:28am on Thursday morning, just less than 24-hours after being stolen, a citizen reported a possible van sighting in a wooded area less than 6-miles from the restaurant where it was stolen. Officers quickly responded and located the vehicle, locked, not running, and unattended. They could hear several dogs barking inside.
The van was parked in direct sun, locked up tight. Officers broke a window to gain access to the dogs who were all barking and eager to be rescued. Haven Humane Society was on scene quickly and immediately began caring for the dogs. They were taken to Haven Humane to receive veterinary services, food, water, and loves.
“Thank God we found them before it got too hot down here,” one of the dogs’ owners told The Seattle Times. “By four or five o’clock, they may not have made it.”
The dogs had high heart rates from heat and stress, were thirsty, hungry, and in need of affection, but were otherwise fine.
An investigation to determine who is responsible for the theft of the vehicle is ongoing. Police have released surveillance images of a possible, yet unidentified, suspect. If anyone has information as to the identity of the suspect(s), contact the Redding Police Department at 530-225-4200.