Woman found with stolen pit bull in Reno

May 14, 2010 5:28:32 PM PDT
The drama of the dangerous pit bull, stolen from an Alameda animal shelter, is playing out now in two states. Alameda police tracked him to a Reno, Nevada motel and arrested one of his owners, Melissa Perry. Her boyfriend, Richard Cochran, told police he helped her steal the dog hours before the dog was supposed to be euthanized.

Max, the red pit bull broken out of an alameda shelter, is back in custody in Reno.

"Basically, it's our property and we want it back, and we're going to handle the euthanasia here," said Alameda Police Sgt. Jill Ottaviano.

The 70-pound dog was found with Perry at a motel Thursday night. Perry was cited and released by Reno police for possession of stolen property. She still faces an arrest warrant in Alameda County on charges she and Cochran broke Max out of the Alameda facility Wednesday morning, just hours before the dog was to be euthanized.

Cochran was arrested and made his first court appearance on burglary and receiving stolen property charges Friday afternoon.

"I think the idea that a pet is going to be executed could cause someone to be very distraught, which could lead someone to act out of character," said Cochran's attorney, Demetrius Costy.

In an interview with ABC7 News on Thursday, Cochran implied Perry took the dog, but in a phone interview Friday he told ABC7, "Ricky [Cochran] and I did not take the dog. And Max is not a dog. He's my best friend."

"In their mind they did not think the dog was vicious," said Ottaviano. "We know that the dog maimed two people in two different situations."

Brendan McFarland was Max's last victim. The scar on his arm shows where Max bit him during a visit to Perry's apartment. It is what prompted an Alameda court commissioner to order Max destroyed.

"They just seemed to think the nature of the bites were too vicious," said McFarland.

To try to save Max, Perry recently hired trainer Gail Chadbourne. She was going to try to modify the dog's behavior, but she never got the chance.

"I understood that he was probably a very good dog that had no chance of changing behaviors because she didn't really understand the dynamics," said Chadbourne.

Cochran made his first court appearance Friday afternoon in Oakland and did not enter a plea. He will be back in court on Tuesday. Perry will face the same felony charges when she returns to California.

Police originally thought as many as four people were involved in the conspiracy to break Max out of the shelter. They now believe Perry and Cochran were the only ones involved. Monday, someone from the Alameda Animal Shelter will travel to Reno and bring Max back to Alameda. The dog will likely be euthanized early next week.


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