HAYWARD (KPIX 5) -- A bizarre dognapping in San Francisco ended with the recovery of two out of three stolen pups in Hayward as police arrested two men on felony charges Thursday night.
"This is awesome, possibly the weirdest day of my life," said Ilsa Jule, executive director of Family Dog Rescue, a San Francisco rescue shelter who recovered the two husky puppies from police.
"It started out in a super alarming way and ended on a positive note. And I'm guessing that I'll have about 50 applications for these dogs by nine o'clock tomorrow morning," she added.
Surveillance video from the shelter shows three men stealing the three dogs around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night.
The two huskies are named Levi and Lara. They were recently rescued from the streets of Tijuana, Mexico. Also stolen was a 2-month-old pit bull named Huey, who came from a shelter in Stockton. He has some mange for which he is receiving medical treatment, including antibiotics.
The Family Dog Rescue staff posted photos on social media, working hard to try and get the puppies back. Then, late Thursday afternoon, somebody else posted the photos online, trying to sell the dogs.
After seeing the Instagram post, a man arranged to buy the dogs on behalf of the shelter. But Hayward police determined that would not be safe. They intervened and worked with that man to conduct a sting operation in a parking lot, where officers surreptitiously invited the men to bring the dogs.
"The suspects were asking for the individual to meet at the Starbucks," said Sgt. Ruben Pola of the Hayward Police Dept. "So they were just sitting there waiting, the officers arrived and they were detained without incident."
Meanwhile, the dogs were in the parking lot inside a silver car belonging to the two suspects.
Now that she has recovered them, Jule said the dogs were definitely the ones that were stolen. She said they were in very good shape and the shelter's management is grateful.
"People were brave, everyone cared, everyone stepped up," Jule said. "The people who stole these dogs probably did something fairly stupid in stealing them from a shelter that has a very wide base of support. Over the last 10 years, we've adopted out 8,000 dogs."
Hayward police say the two men face felony charges of possession of stolen property. They may eventually face additional charges of burglary for breaking into the shelter in the first place.
The fate of the stolen pit bull is still unknown.
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