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Stolen 7-month-old puppy returned to Santa Maria animal shelter

Staff and volunteers at the Santa Barbara Animal Services react upon seeing Riley, a 7-month-old puppy who was dognapped last week from the Santa Maria shelter.
Staff and volunteers at the Santa Barbara Animal Services react upon seeing Riley, a 7-month-old puppy who was dognapped last week from the Santa Maria shelter.

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.”

Woods and North County humane societies announced their intent to merge on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, with the San Luis Obispo-based shelter taking over the Atascadero facility. Plans include a new spay and neuter clinic.

Dogs and owners participate in the Avila Beach Civic Association's yearly Santa's Doggie Parade, which helps support the Avila Beach Community Center.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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