The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

July 23, 2013

A SAFE RETURN

Nabbed Lab returned to owner

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — A Lab nabbed from its family last week has been safely returned to her owner.

Late Saturday afternoon, the 14-year-old yellow Labrador retriever who went missing July 13 from an Ashtabula Harbor neighborhood was anonymously dropped off at the Ashtabula Police Department, Chief Robert Stell said.

The dog’s owner, Patty Wiitanen, has been celebrating the return of her Reeni, who she raised since she was a puppy.

“She looked healthy and happy and her tail wagging,” Wiitanen said. “She came home and was greeted by loved ones, extended family and neighbors with hugs and petting.”

Wiitanen thanked everyone who prayed for the dog’s safe return.

On July 13, a woman in a four-door Jeep Wrangler pulled up to the corner, loaded Reeni in her vehicle and drove off with the canine, according the Wiitanen’s home security camera.

Soon after, the woman called Wiitanen (the phone number was on Reeni’s collar) and told her she had her dog. She asked about the dog’s physical state because Reeni is very old and thin.

Wiitanen said the dog is under veterinary care for vestibular; it’s like vertigo and she doesn’t always eat.

Stell said the person who returned Reeni was not the person who took the dog. The dog is very old and thin but is under veterinary care. Authorities believe the person who took the dog believed she was helping the animal.

Wiitanen disagreed.

“Vigilante animal rescue is not the way to rescue an animal,” she said. “You many not know the whole story.”

How to protect pets from theft:

• Keep your pet indoors when you are not home.

• Keep your pet on a leash.

• Properly identify cats and dogs. Give pet extra security with a microchip.

• Spay and neuter your animal. This will lower his desire to roam.

• Be aware of strangers in your neighborhood.