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Pooches found safe after being dognapped before dog show

California police looking for canine caper
California police are looking for canine caper 01:47

SAN FRANCISCO -- All the stars are present and accounted for this weekend at Woofstock, a dog show in Vallejo, California. But getting to the show left many of the dogs here with little to wag about, when 14 of them were dognapped -- leaving their owners distraught.

"This has been the most stressful days of my entire life," said dog owner Amy McLaughlin. "Those dogs not just my dogs everyone else dogs even the other peoples because we are taking care of them and these dogs are like their kids. These dogs are like my kids."

A van carrying the 14 show dogs from Seattle to California was stolen when the driver stopped briefly to pick up a hamburger.

The 14 dogs are safe. Redding Police

"Never have I seen this where a whole van full of dogs -- especially show dogs -- have been stolen so this is definitely a new one on us," said Mark Storrey, CEO of the Haven Humane Society. 

Security cameras caught a photo of the suspected thief. Law enforcement launched an immediate search. The pampered pets were in clear danger.

"They are my heart and soul and absolute life and I just want them to know that I am here and that I love them," McLaughlin said. 

Deep in a remote woods near Redding, California, a highway patrol helicopter spotted the abandoned van. The dogs were found inside, a little stressed but otherwise ready to get on with the show.

"So relieved," said Justin Shook, the owner of a recovered dog. "Everybody came and gave me hugs.  Awesome to hear that they're okay."

And when the dogs and owners were reunited it made this a tale with a very happy ending.

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