Sunday marked a happy ending to a frantic search for a stolen dog in Vancouver.
“We’re thrilled. Really, we can’t tell you… we’re still trying to digest what an amazing journey this has been,” said Lesley Spiegel.
Kelowna couple Lesley and Tim Spiegel had stopped for soup in Mount Pleasant on Friday evening when someone allegedly broke into their car and dognapped their 19-month-old Coton de Tulear named Luc.
This prompted a widespread search and postering campaign that eventually turned its focus to the Downtown Eastside on the advice of the Thank Dog I Am Out Rescue Society.
On Sunday, the search paid off when the couple was reconnected with Luc through the help of a tipster who Tim said had seen the dog’s photo on Globalnews.ca.
“We got a call about six this morning from a woman who sounded completely straight. She said: ‘I saw your dog last night; he’s somewhere in Gastown,'” said Lesley.
The couple went and picked up the woman who had phoned, and she took them to the Downtown Eastside apartment where she believed the dog was.
The group spoke to the building manager, who told them the unit’s occupant was out but that there was no dog on site.
The Spiegels then got a phone call from someone claiming to have their dog and demanding a ransom.
“It sounded like it wasn’t real. He said: ‘I’ve got your dog. I want $100, and we’ll give you the dog,'” said Lesley.
But the person who phoned never showed up when they went to meet. Instead, the Spiegels got a call from the manager at the building where they’d previously checked, and he said he’d found the dog.
“And there was Luc. We came around the corner, and he was barking, opened the door and he just jumped into our arms,” she said.
The couple says they believe Luc is traumatized and plan to take him to the vet for a checkup.
The Thank Dog I Am Out Rescue Society took to social media on Sunday to announce the good news that a search party scheduled for Sunday was cancelled and to thank the anonymous “angel” whose tip led to Luc heading home with his family.
Tim said what stands out most from the experience has been the warmth and support offered to them by everyone from volunteers who helped put up posters to locals in the Downtown Eastside who wanted to help find Luc, too.
“The support from the community is just amazing,” said Tim.
“What we were taught here is you look at those people and you don’t realize what they’ve been through, and most of them are decent, compassionate people, they’ve just had a rough go of it.”
Indeed, the “angel” that helped reunite the couple with Luc is a woman struggling with homelessness and addiction, according to to Tim, and who initially refused the $2,000 reward being offered for the dog.
Tim said Susan Patterson with Thank Dog I Am Out eventually convinced the woman to take the money, which is being managed for her by a trustworthy adult in her life, and that the Good Samaritan is planning to use it to find a stable place to live and enter addiction treatment.
“I really believe this is her step out of the misery she’s been in,” he said.
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