A 7-month-old puppy that was stolen last week from the Santa Maria Animal Center has been returned.
A local animal advocate returned Riley to the shelter Wednesday, Santa Barbara County Animal Services representatives said.
“We’re very happy that he’s safely returned,” said Stacy Silva, the community outreach coordinator for the shelter said.
“Riley was immediately seen by the veterinary team at the Santa Maria Animal Center and despite having lost some weight, he appears to be in good health,” county officials said in a written statement.
The dog was stolen by a man who was captured by surveillance footage entering the facility on West Foster Road, visiting the dog kennels and leaving.
The suspect is later seen on video in the dog kennel area after entering from the rear of the property. Footage showed the man carrying the dog to a tall fence, tossing the dog over and following it.
Animal Services staff posted information about the theft on its Facebook page Saturday morning along with video. Angry animal lovers quickly shared the news of the theft.
“Santa Barbara County Animal Services would like to thank the community for their support during this time,” Animal Services representatives said. “Thousands of Facebook and other social media posts made a big impact to help with the safe return of Riley.”
On April 29, Animal Services will host a “clear the shelter” adoption event at all three Santa Barbara County facilities, which will offer adoptions for free.
“There really is no reason to steal an animal,” Silva said. “Our goal is to find the animals good homes.”