McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

August 26, 2013

Dog theft has happy ending

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — A McAlester dog theft ended happily thanks to an honest woman from Tulsa and the persistence of the dog’s owners.

On July 20 while Crystal McDaniel and her partner Debbie Grove were in Tulsa for the day, their Yorkie, Ripley, some how escaped from gated yard.

“We didn't realize Ripley was missing until about 9 p.m.” McDaniel said.

And she said the search was on.

McDaniel said she and Groves took to the streets to find Ripley.

“We began to scour the neighborhood,” McDaniel said.

“We began texting neighbors we knew and knocking on doors. Nothing.”

She said the police were called and she was advised to   keep check animal control and the police would keep their eye out.

The next morning McDaniel said they expanded their search but it proved fruitless.

“We began work on posters. Lots and lots of posters,” she said.

After a full day went by with no word, McDaniel said she decided to post a reward in the newspaper.

Two days later McDaniel said she received a phone call from a neighbor who saw the ad.

“She explained she didn't have our dog or know who did but she had one beneficial piece of information.” she said. “The neighbor had been in her front yard on that Saturday morning and saw Ripley. Then she saw a red car pull up and put him in the car. She explained the car was badly damaged all down the drivers side.”

She said with that information, she finally had something to go on,

Then a big lead.

“A friend of a friend all the way from Ada sent a picture message of an ad on a Facebook site where people sell and buy (dogs), McDaniel said.

“It was Ripley's picture with a concocted story about how these people had to sell him. It said they just had him groomed. It said he loved children and stuffed animals. We were devastated and sickened, yet hopeful.

She said she hoped she could buy her dog back.

“We immediately began messaging the girl on the Facebook ad just kindly offering to buy him back. We didn't want to scare her off. We offered $2,000.00 no questions asked for his safe return,” McDaniel said.

“ We immediately had friends try to friend her on Facebook in hopes of getting Ripley (returned)

McDaniel said she finally received a reply from the girl. “Sorry. He's been sold.”

“Again, our hearts dropped,” McDaniel said.

To get to the bottom of it, McDaniel said she wanted to wanted to talk to the girl.

So she began using an extensive network of Facebook friends to ask if anyone knew her or where she lived.

“We were finally informed of her address,” McDaniel said.

“We went right away and notified police but were told there wasn't a lot they could do.”

She said when they went to the girls home they found the red car her neighbor had described.

“We had a little glimmer of hope and as tired as we were, we got revived a bit.”

Then one week to the day after Ripley’s disappearance, McDaniel got a phone call.

“The woman calling said she was from Tulsa,” McDaniel said.

 She inquired how I knew the girl we are now accusing of being a dog thief, I said, ‘I don't want to know her. What do you want?’”

The woman on the phone persisted, McDaniel said.

“ She told me ‘no, really I need to know how you know her.”

 McDaniel said she told the woman, “she stole my dog and sold him!”

The woman from Tulsa began to cry.

“She told me ‘ was afraid of that. I have your dog. I purchased him. He's safe.’

 “Then I began to cry, I couldn't believe it.

After some conversation McDaniel was told the people who had stolen Ripley sold him to her and she “just got a funny feeling” when she returned home with him.

The woman from Tulsa told McDaniel that this dog wouldn't eat, he was meticulously groomed and what was worse, he was extremely sad. He would not eat or play. The woman from Tulsa told McDaniel that she knew  that this dog was loved somewhere.

During the conversation McDaniel said she learned the woman from Tulsa bought him from were a acquaintances of her family.

“She had helped them financially before and felt they were ‘shady.’” McDaniel said.

McDaniel said she quickly drove to meet the woman Glenpool to retrieve Ripley.

“She wouldn't accept a reward at all,” she said.

Meanwhile McDaniel said she decided to try to press charges against the girl who stole Ripley.

“It remains to be seen what can be done,” she said.

“We are patiently awaiting justice. Not just for Ripley but for all the other animals who have been taken and sold. Perhaps never seen again.”

McDaniel said she is working with Partners for Animal Welfare for an upcoming campaign to help get pets microchipped.

“Even if Ripley hadn't been found, McDaniel said.

“This type of behavior shouldn't be tolerated. We wanted to help others this could potentially happen to.”

McDaniels said no police report has been filed at this time.

 Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.