SEATTLE - Marysville police have arrested a woman for stealing a Siberian Husky from a family's yard last month.
The theft was captured on surveillance camera, but the thief remained a mystery to police.
The stolen dog was reunited with its family Tuesday after an attorney contacted police and said he represented an unnamed client who had the animal.
A witness later identified the thief as a 59-year-old Snohomish County woman. Investigators contacted the woman and she came to the police department for questioning. She was booked into the Marsyville Jail for theft, criminal trespass and animal cruelty. Her arraignment is scheduled for October 15.
Surveillance footage from the incident on September 24 showed a woman pulling the dog, Takoda, out of Ron and Colleen Smith's yard and pushing her into a mini-van which sped off. On the video, Takoda can be heard howling as she’s forced to cross the electric fence line that kept her in the yard.
The woman claimed she was rescuing the dog. After seeing the surveillance video of the theft on TV, the woman got an attorney and agreed to turn the dog over to police.
But Tuesday she didn't show up at the Marysville Police Department. Instead, a man dropped off Takoda. The Smiths wanted answers.
"Who are you?" Ron Smith demanded. It turns out the man worked for the suspect's attorney.
The Smiths noticed right away Takoda was not herself. She was shy, shaking, and had cuts and bumps on her face.
"Maybe their heart was in the right place, but they went about it the wrong way. And there are going to be repercussions," said Commander Rob Lamoureux.
Dog rescue groups said thefts like this are rare, but they happen. They chalk it up to the heavy emotions involved between humans and their pets.
"Emotions around animals run very high, very high, just like with children," said Judith Piper, who runs Old Dog Haven outside of Marysville. "People just decide they're going to fix things."
Piper said dog rescue groups have too much to lose to be a vigilante.
"I don't think a legitimate group would consider doing that," she said.
Back at home, Takoda started acting like her old self. The Smiths believe someone assumed she was being neglected because she's kept outside.
"She's more comfortable outside than inside," said Ron.
Outside she will stay, and the Smiths hope the dog-nappers learned their lesson.