North Manheim Township, Schuylkill County -- It's a surveillance photo of the woman who Hillside SPCA staffers say stole a dog from their shelter Saturday afternoon in North Manheim Township. "No one handed her the dog to walk so that, that's a real scary part," said Hillside SPCA Manager Barbara Umlauf.
The dog is a roughly 2-year-old male purebred Yorkshire Terrier nicknamed Marty. It was a stray that was being housed in a front office of the facility. "A very loving little dog so he would virtually go with anybody. He wouldn't have any issues with that," said Hillside SPCA volunteer Dana Smith-Mansell.
The woman caught on surveillance waited until no one was looking and then opened the door to the shelter's small dog building and drove off with the Yorkie. Eyewitness News coverage of the dog theft led to a break in the case that staffers and state police hoped would happen. A Hillside SPCA spokesperson says that daughters of the woman saw our story and became very upset about seeing her connected to the crime. The dog was returned early Sunday afternoon. It's a relief to the staff who didn't know if the dog would be used for breeding or sold or used as a bait dog. "We have no idea what her motives were and that's the scariest part of all," said Ms. Umlauf.
While Hillside SPCA workers and volunteers didn't know the woman personally, she wasn't exactly a stranger. They say she made several stops at the shelter in recent days. "She had told me her dog had recently died and she was looking for another one. She wanted a furry, fluffy dog," said Ms. Umlauf.
As state police continue their investigation into the case, staffers are just relieved that what they considered a heartbreaking nightmare is now over. "It's a very frightening situation in this day and age that we should have... we can have something like that happen," said Ms. Smith-Mansell.
Hillside SPCA staffers say they are now considering policy changes to prevent anything like the stolen dog case from happening again.