Updated, 12:30 a.m. July 13
NORWALK, Conn. – An expensive puppy stolen Monday from a Norwalk puppy dealer was rescued Thursday from a hot porch in West Haven by the store's owner, who has been worried sick about the dog, and by Norwalk police.
Monty Kaufman, owner of Puppies of Westport, said he and another man spent eight hours Wednesday trying to track down the 12-week-old English bulldog, with the help of four informants. Wednesday night, two Norwalk police detectives searched in West Haven without any luck. Kaufman went with them Thursday, tried four houses and found the puppy with a poodle on a porch with no air conditioning and no water put out for the animals.
Detectives told Kaufman to take the dog while they dealt with the family, who had purchased the puppy, worth about $4,000, from a man on the street for $1,000.
"Based on Det. Evarts' investigation and tips obtained from the public Detectives Evarts and Giannattasio were able to locate the dog, which they saw on a back porch," said Sgt. Tom Roncinske, leader of the detective squad that is investigating. "The person who answered the door was very evasive, and they found what they needed to find and they got out of there. The investigation is still pending, and we anticipate some arrests."
The puppy was stolen Monday by a man accompanied by a young boy, who Kaufman believes is the man's son and about 10 years old. The man tried to use a stolen credit card to pay for the puppy but then ran out and drove away with the dog. A clerk got the license plate of the vehicle, but it turned out to be stolen.
The man had tried to use the credit card at Bob's to buy about $800 worth of merchandise, Kaufman said. When he did, he used a Bob's store courtesy card, providing investigators with an address.
The puppy is susceptible to health problems at his young age and must be kept cool, Kaufman said. He appeared worse for wear, not looking as good as the photo Kaufman had taken within the last week. At about 3:30 p.m., Kaufman said the dog had been back in Norwalk for about a half-hour. After a quick interview with a television news crew, the puppy was taken back inside for some water and a bath.
Most puppies in the store do not get names, but Kaufman says this dog will be an exception. He and his wife will come up with a variation of "lucky" and be more choosy about who gets him. "We're always careful with who we sell a dog to, but now," he said.
Kaufman and his wife have 11 dogs, or they would keep the pooch themselves.
The story of the stolen puppy has gone nationwide, he said. His store website had 2,500 hits Wednesday. "This dog is now one of the most famous dogs in the country," he said.
It was "crazy" that the thief thought he could get away with it, he said. Kaufman recognized the puppy by its markings when he spotted it on the porch, but he had another tool to confirm it was the right dog: a microchip scanner.
The dog, whose bloodline includes seven champions, had a chip implanted for identification purposes, Kaufman said. "It took a while to find the chip, I got scared, maybe they had removed it," he said.
The family who had the bulldog was worried about not getting back the money they spent, Kaufman said. He offered them another puppy and they said they'd bring the dog down. They didn't show, and Kaufman wound up traveling with police to look for him.
He didn't know whether the family would face charges. "I have no pity or empathy or whatever for them," he said. "It's one thing to unknowingly buy a stolen puppy. It's another thing to know you've got a stolen dog and do nothing with it."
Kaufman will pay a $500 reward to the first person who came forward with information. "I really have to thank that anonymous informant," he said. "At the end of the day, it was a few people who decided to call."
He struggled to regain his composure while talking about the dog and said he and his wife hadn't slept in three days. "I'm thrilled," he said. "I really was worried it might not have such a happy ending."