Pup, Hurled Over Fence And Stolen From Shelter, Has Been Recovered

A seven-month-old pup, who vanished after a bold theft on the afternoon of April 13 from the Santa Maria Animal Center in California, has been recovered. The puppy, named “Riley,” was stolen by a brazen man who threw the puppy over the shelter adoption kennel’s tall fencing in broad daylight; the crime was caught on surveillance cameras.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services immediately went to social media in an effort to help find the missing puppy and the non-profit, Davey’s Voice, offered a sizable reward for Riley’s safe return. Before Riley was found, there was concern that he may have been injured after being thrown over the tall fencing.

Widespread networking of the surveillance video is being credited for Riley’s safe return. On April 19, Santa Barbara County Animal Services shared news of Riley’s return with its Facebook followers:

At approximately 2 p.m., Riley, the dog stolen on April 13th, was safely returned to the Santa Maria Animal Center. He was immediately seen by our vet team and aside from some weight loss appears to be in good health. Riley is receiving a lot of love from shelter staff and volunteers!

The shelter added:

Santa Barbara County Animal Services would like to thank Debbie Warren for aiding in the safe return of Riley to the shelter. In addition, we would like to thank our community for your support during this time. It is YOUR shares and posts on social media and calls to the police department that helped in the safe return of Riley! We would also like to thank the Santa Maria Police Department for their dedication to this case.

There has been no official statement about the man who was allegedly responsible for throwing Riley over the fencing and whisking him away from the shelter facility.


On April 29 (Saturday) the three shelters included in Santa Barbara County Animal Services will be hosting a Clear Our Shelters event. Animal Services explained:

Clear Our Shelters” offers community members the opportunity to adopt an animal that has been spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated, health checked, and microchipped, for FREE; that’s up to $120 savings! Adoption Counselors will be on hand to help ensure you are getting the right pet for your lifestyle. Dog adopters are encouraged to bring a collar and leash along when coming to meet your match.

Please note, an adoption application IS required.

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(Image/video via Santa Barbara County Animal Services)

Penny Eims

Penny is a freelance writer who provided content to her National Dog News column at Examiner.com for 8 years. She is a current contributor to Fido Friendly Magazine, as well as a newly formed website, Pet Rescue Report. Penny is married and she has two rescued German shepherds and two kids.