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In at least two separate instances, men armed with rifles have approached Houston area dog owners out walking their dogs to steal (or attempt to steal, in one case) the dog in what appears to be a setup to later collect reward money for the dog’s return.
Surveillance video captured the terrifying moments when the armed men dognapped one Houston couple’s French Bulldog at gunpoint.
Joey Barnhill and his fiancé were taking their French Bulldog for a walk near their east downtown Houston home when a vehicle stopped alongside them. Two men, one armed with an AR-15 rifle, ran toward the couple, demanding they give up their dog.
“They both ran at me and they were yelling, ‘Give me the dog! Give me the dog!’ and we were scared, and honestly, we didn’t know what to do,” Barnhill explained to KHOU.
One man pointed a rifle at the couple while another wrestled the dog away from Barnhill. The man holding the rifle fired a shot and the couple, without their beloved dog, ran home to call police. In the minutes before police arrived, the armed men continued circling the couple’s home.
The next day, Barnhill received a call from a woman claiming to have found the stolen dog. But, she wanted a reward for returning him. They arranged to meet near the NRG Stadium.
Suspecting they were being setup, Barnhill located a police officer and asked for assistance. When Barnhill and the officer arrived at the meeting location, they found the dog alone.
Then, on Saturday a Houston woman out walking her dog said two men in a car with the same description tried to force her to give up her dog, too. The woman screamed loudly enough that a nearby vehicle stopped to assist and the potential dognappers left the scene.
At this time, Houston Police have not confirmed whether the crimes are connected, but because the descriptions of the men, their vehicle, and the method of attack are the same, the victims believe they are the same.
Related: Infographic: Dognapped! Dog Theft and How to Prevent It