Puppy stolen from parked car

A woman left the Labrador retriever in her car at Gerbes on Paris Road.
Sunday, July 31, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:16 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

A woman who recently moved to Columbia discovered her puppy was missing Thursday evening when she returned to her car after a quick trip to the Gerbes supermarket on Paris Road.

Ciera Martin said she left her two dogs in her car with the windows rolled down while she went into the store for 10 minutes. It was a relatively cool 84 degrees, but still far too hot to have the windows up and two dogs inside. When she returned, the younger of the two dogs was gone.

Martin, 22, had moved to Columbia with her fiancé in May. The two came from San Francisco “to start a new life,” she said. They brought their 4-year-old dog, Rowdy, but Martin said Rowdy was lonely, and they began looking for a canine companion. They eventually found Baxter, a baby chocolate Labrador retriever, in Jefferson City. Rowdy became a happier dog.

And then Rowdy’s pal was taken from the car, much to Martin’s shock; she said she didn’t think dogs were ever taken from cars. “People have dogs in their cars all the time; they’re part of the family,” she said.

Martin said she reported the theft at the Columbia Police Department substation at Gerbes. She said the officers reviewed a surveillance tape and saw someone approaching her car, but the person was not identifiable from the image. She said there were fingerprints on the car, but the officers told her they were too busy to investigate a dog theft.

Capt. Zim Schwarze, East District police commander, said she hadn’t heard about the incident, but the officers may have told Martin it would be very difficult to track down a dog thief. She said dog thefts are occasionally reported, but, in the end, most turn out not to be thefts.

“Often the owner doesn’t know whether the dog just got out or if it was stolen,” Schwarze said. She said Martin’s report was the first of a dog stolen from a vehicle in more than two years.

Jason Ramsey with the Central Missouri Humane Society said the Humane Society receives at least three or four calls each month about a stolen dog, but in most cases the dog has just run off.

“There are any number of reasons a person might call saying their dog was stolen,” Ramsey said. “Usually the dog just got loose and (the owner is) afraid of getting a ticket.”

A basset hound was stolen from the Humane Society last week, but Ramsey said that too is very uncommon. “I guess this person just really wanted that dog,” he said.

He said the person broke in during the night and broke the locks on the cage. In other rare cases, someone has taken a dog during the day when no one was looking, he said.

Martin said she just wanted to alert other pet owners to the reality that dogs can be stolen. “It hurt me so bad,” she said, choking back tears. “I can’t imagine what people who lose their children must go through. This was just a dog.”

Anyone can bring the missing dog to the Central Missouri Humane Society, 616 Big Bear Blvd., with no questions asked. There is a $200 reward.

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