A 15-month-old Labrador retriever has been reunited with his owner nearly five weeks after the dog was stolen.
Following a rash of vehicle break-ins in the Leslie St. & Sheppard Ave.area between March and August, 33 Division officers and the Emergency Task Force found the dog in one of two locations where search warrants were executed on September 15.
Randy Pottinger, 46, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with theft over $5,000, 52 counts of theft under $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, 51 counts of mischief, 52 counts of fail to comply with probation and fail to attend court.
“Another party that lived in the house said the accused had brought the dog home a couple of weeks ago and when she asked him about, he told her that the less she knew the better,” said Constable Clayton White. “When we started to try to identify who the dog owner was, we found a Toronto police report of a lady actually reporting that her dog was stolen. “
The theft was captured on the victim’s home surveillance video.
White alleged the accused was seen on video taking the dog, which was friendly with him.
“He kept the dog for that month and was seen walking with it,” White also alleged.
"This is like a miracle... I never thought I would see my pet again. I am so, so happy.”
On August 15, Sylvia Yuan had left the dog in her yard for a friend to pick up later that day and care for it while she was on a visit to Banff International Park. She was stunned when she learned the animal was stolen.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said the international student. “But I have a camera in my backyard and we were able to see the bad guy taking the dog away.”
Yuan was reunited with the dog – her first -- on September 22 at Toronto Animal Services on Sheppard Ave. W.
“This is like a miracle,” she added. “I never thought I would see my pet again. I am so, so happy.”
Inspector Richard Hegedus said this was an uncommon theft.
“We had been working on hundreds of theft occurrences from autos associated with this case, so our initial focus was not on the dog at all,” he said. “But when we did the search warrant, we recovered the dog and one of our sharp-eyed investigators recalled the theft of a dog about a month earlier and that is how we were able to reunite the owner and the dog.”
The dog was in the care of Animal Services for a week.
“It was in fairly good condition when it came here,” said Animal Services supervisor Sheena Rodda. “It’s young, so it’s full of energy… Our staff did a quick look at the dog, vaccinated it and, because it came in under protective custody, it was held in an area in the building for strays and dogs under protective custody.”