INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A stolen puppy was reunited Wednesday with its owner after video of the brazen theft sparked outrage on social media and mobilized the efforts of amateur sleuths.
Jasper, a 3-month-old Australian Shepherd bully mix, was dognapped Monday afternoon from owner Ryan Coy’s east side yard.
Home security video provided by Coy shows a woman exiting a car across the street from his home and walking up to his fence.
She pets Jasper through the fence as the driver of the getaway vehicle pulls up beside her. She quickly unlatches the gate, grabs the puppy and jumps in the car.
“I was just devastated,” Coy told News 8.
His girlfriend’s young children were distraught without their playmate and his other dog, Benji, refused to eat. Jasper was Benji’s puppy and Coy’s pick of the litter.
The frantic pet owner immediately reported the theft to police but detectives said Wednesday they had no suspect information.
Coy posted clips of his porch camera footage and photos of the stolen dog on Facebook. Within hours, the posts generated thousands of shares, reactions, comments and views.
Several social media users alerted him after recognizing Jasper in another social media post.
The Facebook story features a photo of Coy’s dog and the caption, “$500 HARDEST PIT BULL YOU EVER SEEN YOU CAN GET HIM CASH OUT.”
The seller claimed he purchased the dog and denied being linked to Monday’s theft.
“[Followers] ended up putting enough pressure on [the seller] to where he reached out to me,” Coy said.
After hours of negotiating drop-off and meeting locations, Coy and his girlfriend secured Jasper’s safe return.
Pet thefts rarely end with reunions. An estimated 2 million pets are stolen nationwide each year, according to nonprofit organization Last Chance for Animals.
Approximately 10 percent of the animals make it home.
Most states, including Indiana, do not have pet theft laws and treat cases like Jasper’s dognapping as personal property theft.
The theft of a pet whose market value does not exceed $750 is a misdemeanor in Indiana.
“That’s a grave injustice in regards to how people actually feel about their animals,” said Chris Berry, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s managing attorney. “Unfortunately, we see this throughout the legal system. The law doesn’t quite appreciate the value of animals.”
Coy was surprised when he learned the suspect – if arrested and charged – would face no additional penalties for stealing a dog.
“It’s almost like a child,” he said of his puppy.
Anybody with information relevant to the investigation is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.