July 06, 2015 - 6:11 PM
KAMLOOPS - Saundra Potter didn’t expect to come home without a dog when she took a family trip to Kelowna to run an errand.
Potter and her three children left their dog Bailey in the back of her truck with a blanket, food and water when they entered a store to grab barbecue supplies last Friday, July 3. But when they came out, the dog was no longer waiting for them; only her harness remained.
“Someone unclipped her,” Potter says. “The kids were freaking out."
While the dog is a family dog, Potter says she bought the pet primarily to train as a therapy dog for her autistic daughter Tyra.
Potter, feeling dizzy from a medical treatment earlier that day, looked for the 11-week-old English setter around the parking lot with her three kids in tow. During their search, a car pulled up to tell her the dog didn’t go missing; it was stolen.
"'This man went up to your vehicle and was looking at your dog and we saw him pick up your dog’ (they told me),” Potter says adding they told her the man was in a wheelchair.
After calls to the RCMP, Potter found out the police knew the man.
“Apparently he hangs out at Costco every day,” she says.
But after driving around for two hours, Potter had to call off the search and head back to Kamloops.
“it was awful. It was sick. I can’t even describe the sick feeling,” she says. "My kids cried themselves to sleep. To come home and not have her with us, it was just disgusting."
But in the meantime, RCMP continued their own investigation of the man accused of stealing Bailey.
"While out on routine patrol, the lead investigator located and questioned a man matching the suspect's description in the area of Highway 97 and Underhill Street. The 56-year-old Kelowna man admitted to being at the Kelowna Costco the day prior and was subsequently arrested for the alleged theft,” Const. Jesse O’Donaghey said in a media release.
"Through further investigation police learned that the man reportedly observed the puppy in distress, removed the puppy from the back of the vehicle and took the puppy to his residence with the intention of delivering the animal to the B.C. SPCA."
Potter says flatly the dog was not in distress.
"That’s BS because I was on the phone with the SPCA talking to them," she said.
Police located Bailey and returned her safely to the family.
O’Donaghey says to not take it upon yourself to take the animal into custody if it may be in distress. Kelowna RCMP advises asking stores to page customers, call the B.C. SPCA, call animal control or call the RCMP detachment.
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