Losing your dog is a horrifying experience, but one thing that may be even scarier is having your pup stolen. That’s what happened to the Lay family earlier this week – but this story has already gotten a happy ending and justice is coming for the criminal involved.
Last Wednesday, the Lay family left their pup, Kai, temporarily in the care of ARE Animal Rescue in Hemet, California. Kai is a fluffy 4-month-old Tri-color Pembroke Welsh Corgi pup who was scheduled to be neutered that day. After the procedure, Kai was put in a kennel to rest and recover from his surgery, but just one hour later, he was gone.
Surveillance footage captured by ARE’s cameras shows a child entering the building with a young woman in a black sleeveless top not far behind. The woman told shelter staff that she was there to choose a kitten to adopt, and looked around while the staff helped other visitors.
Kai’s kennel was not in a place where the theft was recorded, but moments after the woman arrived, another camera caught her leaving with him in her arms. She and the child hustled out of the door as fast as they could and were gone before anyone realized what was happening.
ARE staff were horrified when they realized that the pup was gone. Amber Schlieder, the owner of the rescue, was heartbroken when she had to call Kai’s family and explain that their pup was missing. Close to tears, she told ABC7 about the terrible phone call that followed:
“It was honestly the most difficult call I’ve ever had to make. To call her and say that somebody had just stolen this baby just right out from under us. Just stole this baby.”
The rescue immediately set to work getting the word out about Kai’s disappearance over social media, and Kai’s family began posting flyers, hoping someone would see them and tell them where their pup might be and who had taken him. A police report was filed and they checked surrounding businesses to see if anyone might have caught her on camera carrying Kai away. A local news station met with the rescue and family, spreading the surveillance footage and news about Kai.
Police were called, and detectives with the Hemet Police Department became involved. In just a few hours, they gathered enough information to point them in the right direction. Their work led them to a nearby home where they found 21-year-old Chanel Groffo – and Kai.
Kai was returned to his loving family, who are happy to have him home again.
Groffo was charged with felony theft of a dog and held in the Riverside County Jail with bail set at $10,000. Despite the seriousness of the crime she had committed and the pain she had caused Kai’s family and the rescue, she smiled in her mugshot.
Thanks to the quick action of the people at ARE Animal Rescue and the detectives with the Hemet Police Department, Kai is back home with the people who love him, and soon, we hope, his kidnapper will pay the price for her crime.