A San Marcos couple is pleading for the safe return of their English Bulldog which wandered away from home and was then taken from a doggy daycare facility in North San Diego County.
Michelle and MariaElena Hinojos said their 5-month-old puppy, “Schroeder,” was last seen Wednesday at Dogtopia, a dog daycare service located at 925 W. San Marcos Blvd.
Earlier that day, the owners said Schroeder had slipped under a gate and wandered away from home.
An unknown man found the pup and brought him to Dogtopia at around 7:30 p.m.. About 30 to 45 minutes later, Schroeder was released by the facility to an unknown man claiming to be his owner.
Now, Schroeder’s real owners are left without their beloved dog and with the task of tracking down the stolen pup.
“It’s very frustrating. It’s heartbreaking to know that someone can just pick up a dog and not have any information about them. I feel bad for him. He doesn’t know who took him,” said MariaElena.
“It’s hard on us because we don’t know where he is. We don’t know if anybody is taking care of him, or if he’s okay,” she added, fighting back tears. "He was our baby."
NBC 7 reached out to Dogtopia Friday, and the company released the following statement regarding the unfortunate situation:
"At Dogtopia of San Marcos, our first and foremost priority is always the well-being and safety of dogs. We support all of our employees and know our manager acted in what she felt was the best interest of the dog, who was unknown to us and not a Dogtopia client. We continue to provide as much information as we can to assist in the police investigation. Some additional details are at play, which are not related to Dogtopia, and at this time, we want to let police do their job and cannot speculate or comment further. Thank you."
Drew Boomer, spokesperson for Dogtopia, spoke with NBC 7 and said staffers at the facility are very upset over the incident.
“On behalf of our team, we are horrified and concerned about the safety of this dog. We’re very sorry that this has happened,” said Boomer.
“The dog was not known to us, was not a client to us and yet the health and safety of all dogs is always our first priority. The dog was brought to us as a lost puppy, foun
d here on this very busy street. Our store manager did everything she felt was right in her heart to provide safety for the dog and we stand behind her,” she added.
A surveillance camera at the doggy daycare captured an image of the man who picked Schroeder up from Dogtopia. In the photo, the dark-haired man is wearing a black sweatshirt, pants and sneakers. He’s carrying Schroeder in his arms.
MariaElena said she and her wife don't recognize the man in those images.
The pup’s owners have created a Facebook page – “BRING Schroeder HOME” – to spread the word on this case. On the page, the owners said Schroeder is micro-chipped and registered with the American Kennel Club.
“The AKC has sent out flyers to vets and shelters and if he is scanned, it will have an alert attached,” one post read.
MariaElena is pleading for any information that could bring back their pet. They paid $4,000 for Schroeder and have had him since January.
“If you see him, if anybody knows where he’s at, please contact us. It’s very frustrating and emotional. We go home and it’s empty. It’s very hard.”
Michelle said all she wants is to be reunited with Schroeder and put this mess behind them.
“I want him home. I don’t care who did it, where he’s at – just bring him back over here. That’s all we’re wanting out of this. I’m not looking to place blame. We want him home,” she said. "Please help us find him."
Anyone with information on this case or details on Schroeder's whereabouts should contact the San Diego County Sheriff's Department at (858) 565-5200 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.