A fourth puppy stolen from a Highland Park animal hospital
last week was reunited Monday with its owner, a hearing-impaired Glassell Park
resident who intended to train the pooches to help the disabled, a Los Angeles
Police Department officer assisting with the investigation told Patch.
According to Officer Gabriel Nily, the LAPD got a call at around 10 a.m. Monday from a resident of Huntington Park who said he might have one of the six puppies whose theft from the North Figueroa Animal Hospital, located at 5550 N. Figueroa St., was widely reported in the news.
After Ryan Fingerle, the owner of the puppies, e-mailed photos of the pooches to the LAPD, officers “found a match,” Nily said. The pup found in Huntington Park also had a birth defect and walked with a limp, which were characteristics Fingerle confirmed.
The puppy is among a litter of six American Bulldogs who were stolen Aug. 5 by two male suspects. Three puppies were recovered Saturday after they were found abandoned in the same parking lot, according to Dr. Ronaldo Vasquez, who owns the animal hospital.
Vasquez told Patch that two men were seen throwing the puppies into the hospital parking lot late Saturday after the hospital had closed. The witness notified authorities and the puppies were subsequently returned to Fingerle, he said.
Officer Nily said he believes the suspects left the puppies in the parking lot because they feared it would be difficult to hold on to them or sell them following all the media attention on the case.
Two puppies are still missing, and the LAPD Northeast Division is planning to issue an e-mail blast as well as launch a social media initiative to alert the public about them, Nily said.
According to Dr. Vasquez, LAPD detectives are working on two theories about the theft. The first is that people familiar with Fingerle may have followed her to the hospital and are not from the neighborhood. The second theory is that the suspects may have been "scoping out the hospital and just looking for the opportunity to steal dogs," Vasquez said, adding that this was the first theft of animals since his hospital opened in 1981.
"It just breaks my heart that there are people out there who would take someone's pups—these are their kids," Vasquez said. Since the recovery of the puppies, both Fingerle and the mother of the pups, who had been depressed, have been feeling a lot better, Vasquez said.
"I am so glad that all the media coverage helped to return the puppies home without any harm," the veterinarian said. "However, the best ending will be to have the other two puppies returned and for the two men to be caught and punished for their crime."