Police say yesterday dog handler Tony Carter and his assistant stopped at a Redding In and Out Burger to get a bite. He left the engine running to power the air conditioner and left the doors unlocked while they went inside. When they came out the vehicle was gone.
Carter made an emotional plea to get the dogs back. He said: "I don' t care about the van, I just need help with these animals. These are my client dogs. They're dogs owned by other people."
Meantime, the theft was the talk of the event at the Woofstock Dog Show in Vallejo. Dog handler Larry Fenner of Sacramento told us, "You're disappointed that in our day and age people will steal anything."
Eva Berg, Secretary of the Contra Costa Kennel Club added: "my guess is the person that stole the van didn't even realize there were show dogs in there."
She may be right. Late this morning, the van was discovered abandoned in a wooded area near Redding.
The dogs are said to be okay. When officials at the dog show announced over the public address system that the animals had been discovered there were cheers and even a few tears in the close-knit dog community. Police do have surveillance photos of a possible suspect. No word yet on when or if the dogs will continue their trip to the Woofstock show.
RELATED: 6 puppies rescued from sealed plastic bin in Arkansas dumpster
Click here for more stories on dogs.