Heidi, a 10-month-old dog that was reported stolen last week during the ice storm, was returned to her owners Thursday night by the man who, using a pseudonym, admitted on a social media site that he stole the dog.
"Thanks be to God Almighty for answering our prayers and those of everyone supporting us,” Mary Clay Gupton, the dog’s owner, said Friday in an email to the Star-Telegram.
The incident stirred up a social media tempest.
Police are investigating Heidi’s case as a theft, but there were no arrests or citations as of Friday, according to Cpl. Tracey Knight, a police spokeswoman.
“This is still an ongoing investigation,” Knight said.
The dog, a Greater Swiss Mountain breed, was found to be missing about 9 p.m. Dec. 6 by Crawford and Mary Clay Gupton, who live in the River Crest/Monticello area.
A neighbor reported seeing Heidi in the dog run, between the two front doors of her owner’s duplex, at 5:30 p.m. When the Guptons returned home, Heidi was gone, and the horseshoe latch that secured the gate was cut.
Police were notified about the theft on Saturday.
“Mr. Gupton said initially he didn’t believe someone stole his dog and he thought the gate had simply broken due to the cold weather,” Officer J.W. Reynolds wrote in his police report. “His father came and inspected the locking arm and confirmed it had been cut with a tool.”
Reynolds concurred that the gate appeared to have been deliberately cut with a metal-cutting saw.
“The Guptons had already hung dozens of signs in their neighborhood before they knew for sure the dog had been stolen,” he wrote in his report. “More important than the monetary value of the stolen dog, they both love the dog and for this reason, its value far exceeds the replacement value.”
In addition to signs, on social media websites and Craigslist the Guptons offered a $2,000 reward for Heidi’s return with “no questions asked.”
“We DO NOT want revenge, we just want our dog back,” they wrote. “Please find it in your heart to do the right thing. We are beyond heartbroken.”
Dogsaver or dognapper?
This week, a man who dubbed himself “Dogthedogsaver,” wrote on the social media site Reddit that he took Heidi, because, he said, the dog was suffering in the cold.
Dogthedogsaver posted a profanity-laced letter to Heidi’s owners on Reddit, accusing them of being neglectful pet owners and claiming to have “rescued” Heidi.
“She’s now with a family that will love her and give her the attention she deserves,” he wrote and posted a picture of the dog with a green rubber bone in her mouth.
He wrote that he was walking to the store and taking a shortcut through the duplex’s carport and spotted Heidi outside in the freezing weather without food, water or a blanket and in a dog run. In subsequent trips by the house over several hours, the dog was still outside, Dogthedogsaver wrote.
He claimed to have knocked on the door to try to contact the dog’s owners, but got no response, and even notified the Humane Society and animal control for help, but no one was available because of the weather.
So he went home to get tools, returned and took the dog, Dogthedogsaver wrote.
“We’re really beat down”
“We did not find any calls at animal control” about a dog being left in the cold at that address, said Brandon Bennett, director of the Fort Worth Public Health and Codes Department. The Humane Society of North Texas did not respond to inquiries on Thursday.
The police report describes the dog run as about 5 feet wide by 14 feet deep with walls on three sides and a roof overhead. It contains a dog house, sleeping mat and eating bowls and is enclosed with a chain-link gate, the report states.
The Dogthedogsaver post went viral, at one point becoming the top link of the entire Reddit website. Many commenters criticized the owners, and friends say they received death threats. Others defended the couple, pointing out that the dog’s breed makes it much more accommodating of cold weather.
“We’re really beat down,” Mary Clay Gupton said Thursday.
Thursday night, Dogthedogsaver confirmed on Reddit that Heidi was returned to her owners. He was not pleased with the process.
“Heidi has been returned,” he posted. But there had been “a poor job of handling the switch.” A third party “did not pick up the dog as he stated he would,” he wrote. “The owners were there instead. They charged me and demanded my name. So much for no confrontation or questions.”
Dogthedogsaver also posted that he gave the owners money “to repair the lock” and that they cursed him.
The Guptons did not return phone messages seeking comment Thursday evening.