A five-month-old Australian shepherd called Vango may have had a paw in his own rescue when he alerted personnel at a Gatineau, Que., pet store to his alleged dognapping.
According to Yves Jodoin, a staff member and dog trainer at Au Royaume des Animaux, Vango visited the store Monday with a couple who typically came in to buy cat food.
“The dog was barking, the dog was poking and he really wanted my attention,” Jodoin recalled.
Jodoin said he instantly grew concerned when the couple didn’t appear to know basic facts about the dog – his precise age, whether he’d been sterilized, what sort of food he ate and how much they’d spent for him.
“They were dodging the questions,” Jodoin added. “I was giving the dog biscuits, but the dog was still barking.”
Meanwhile, a coworker proceeded to check social media for instances of stolen dogs, and soon turned up a photo of Vango. The dog had been reported missing from his home in Buckingham, Que., barely two and a half hours earlier.
That’s when Jodoin suddenly realized he already knew the dog – he’d trained Vango as a puppy.
“At that point I yelled, ‘Vango, come!’ And the dog was reacting, he was jumping,” Jodoin recalled. “All along he was barking and poking, trying to say, ‘Hey, I’m not the dog they say I am.’”
The couple said they’d found the dog in the woods. The woman informed Jodoin she wanted to retain the dog as a support animal since she had terrible health and couldn’t afford to acquire and train a dog.
Surrounded by witnesses at the store, Jodoin urged the couple to relinquish the animal. Then he phoned Vango’s legal owner, Josée Francoeur.
‘I can’t talk about it without sobbing’
“I can’t talk about it without sobbing,” Francoeur said about the moment she got Jodoin’s call.
Francoeur claimed the dog disappeared after she let him out for a potty in her enclosed yard about 9 a.m. Monday. As she peeked her head out the door, Vango, who wasn’t microchipped was gone.
“Is it possible that someone abducted him? And I was wondering, ‘Who could do that? It’s impossible!”
Francoeur quickly put a notice on the local SPCA site for missing animals, and on other social media accounts. In tears, she explored her area, asking everyone she met whether they’d seen her dog. At one point, a police officer weighed in to help and typed out an official missing dog report.
She was starting to lose hope when her phone rang.
“Imagine, If those folks didn’t go to that pet store, I would have lost my dog forever,” Francoeur added.
Filed police complaint
She’s now filed a police report because she wants the couple to understand the consequences of their actions.
“I don’t want to give them troubles. We don’t know why they did it. But at the same time, they snatched my baby,” Francoeur added. “I want to discourage others from doing this.”
Gatineau police said they’re investigating, but would need to establish the couple willfully stole the dog, as opposed to discovering him, before filing charges.
The SPCA de L’Outaouais, where the couple had gone Vango that morning to register the dog with a new name, is using the event to warn dog owners to have their pet microchipped.
Francoeur said she’s set an appointment to get Vango microchipped.
“This all could have been prevented,” she claimed.