A Shih Tzu-terrier mix named Scarlett went missing from her New Smyrna Beach, Florida neighborhood this week. Luckily, she was found by a Good Samaritan and dropped off at a local shelter. Unluckily, only a few hours later she was stolen away. Thinking she was gone for good, her family was surprised to find her a few days later, when they accidentally stumbled upon the thieves.
"The dog used to belong to a fiancée of mine who died of breast cancer," Ed Algieri told NBC Wesh 2 News. Scarlett has been with Ed Algieri and his daughters for eight years. When she went missing the family immediately went looking. They posted up fliers and canvassed the neighborhood and were relieved to learn someone had found her and placed her in one of the temporary holding cages outside the Southeast Volusia Humane Society on Sunday night.
However, when the family showed up on Monday morning to pick her up, Scarlett was gone.
Typically, the cages have padlocks to secure them. But when Scarlett was dropped off, the lock was not used. As the cages are under video surveillance, authorities watched the video and saw thieves removing Scarlett from her cage.
"They looked at the tape. They saw a man get out of the SUV, grab the dog, get back in the SUV and leave," Algieri said. The man can clearly be seen driving up to the cage and then handing off Scarlett to a woman in the SUV. The video also showed that a child was in the car at the time. The same vehicle drove by the cages an hour earlier, no doubt so the thieves could scope things out.
The family thought Scarlett was gone, never to return.
A few nights later when the family was at a church event, one of Algieri's daughters spotted Scarlett with a man and woman in the parking lot.
Algieri said his daughter approached the woman. "She says, 'Ma'am, that dog, where did you get it?' She says, 'We got it from the Humane Society.' She says, 'Well, that's our dog. That dog was stolen from the Humane Society,'" Algieri recounted.
The two people denied any wrongdoing. Algieri and new fiancee, Susan Orthmann then approached and confronted the dog-nappers.
"I said, 'Scarlett, Scarlett, come here,' and she came, and she jumped in my arms. I said, 'Take the leash off the animal. This is our dog, and we're taking the dog back,'" said Orthmann.
The man and woman then fled the parking lot. Algieri said that they are not inclined to press charges, now their dog is safely back home.
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