On Wednesday, February 19, what seemed to be an attempted dog-napping at Grape Street Dog Park was thwarted by park regulars, who stopped the would-be perpetrator in the parking lot. More than one eyewitness claimed that it was not a chance occurrence and that the victim was intentionally targeted.
The dog's owner, a park regular who declined to have his name published, was sitting at a picnic table within the park when a young woman walked up, attached a leash to his small, white terrier mix, and told him, "I'm taking your dog and keeping her," then hurried away. Witnesses say she took the dog directly to her car, which was parallel-parked for a "quick getaway" — facing the parking lot's exit on Grape Street.
At that moment, a different dog-park regular arrived in the parking lot and, recognizing the terrier, blocked the suspected dog-napper's exit until the owner was able to retrieve his pet. The suspected dog-napper then tried unsuccessfully to wrestle away the dog's collar, seemingly to procure its license tag.
Witnesses describe the suspect, who was dressed in a knit cap and yoga attire, as being in her 30s, with brown hair, and driving a Honda with Oregon plates. When confronted, she claimed to have been concerned with the welfare of the dog in question, accusing the dog's owner of negligence.
This was not the first interaction between the woman and the dog owner. On previous occasions, the owner said, the woman approached him while visiting the park with her own dog. She expressed safety concerns about his terrier's tendency to leave park bounds and wander into the Grape Street parking lot unattended.
On February 19, when the same woman approached his dog and leashed it, the terrier's owner said his first assumption was that she was "making a point" about not letting his dog wander off on its own. Instead, he watched in shock as she beelined for the exit. "When the girl reached the fence, I realized she wasn't kidding," he said. "I keep my dog on a leash at all times now."
The terrier's owner recently adopted the dog from a local chapter of the Humane Society. A witness said the young woman claimed the dog could not be considered the man's personal property because it was a living creature with its own wants and needs.
Since the incident, flyers have been posted around the park showing a photo of the alleged suspect, labeled with the words "Dog thief." A witness confirmed the photo (pictured above, with barred eyes) was taken by an acquaintance of the dog's owner as the suspect attempted to depart with the dog.