Stolen dog reunites with owner in SJ after ransom request; police warn of rise in dognappings

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Friday, August 26, 2022
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Stolen American Bulldog named Felon reunites with his owner in San Jose after a ransom request. Police also warn of a rise in dog-napping crimes.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Police are issuing a warning to pet owners in the South Bay after a dog was stolen for ransom.

It's a crime trend being seen throughout the Bay Area.

Fortunately, Wednesday, there was a happy reunion outside of the San Jose Police Department.

The American Bull Dog named "Felon" was reunited with his owner after a scary dognapping.

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Police say Felon was taken by a man earlier this month, who his owner only knew through mutual friends.

Police say the man helped her move items to a storage unit.

"The day that he helped her move some items is the day that he stole her car, basically, and held it from her and said, 'Hey, I'm not giving you your car back until you give me some money,'" said Sergeant Christian Camarillo with the San Jose Police Department.

That suspect also stole her dog.

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The victim was later able to find the car on her own and get it back -- almost losing her life in the process -- but was still unsuccessful in finding her dog.

"(The suspect) found out that she took the car back and that's when he fired a gun at her, slashed her tires, etc.," Camarillo said. "And still was demanding money for the dog."

That's when Felon's owner got police involved.

Wednesday, the man suspected of the attack and dognapping was arrested.

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"Our covert response units located and arrested the suspect in San Jose," Camarillo said. "Later, after that arrest, we were able to find out where the dog was."

The suspect, 40-year-old Johnny Chagolla, was charged with weapons violations, dog theft and stealing a vehicle.

Over the phone, the victim and owner of the dog spoke with ABC7 News, saying she was still too afraid of the suspect to speak on camera, but wanted everyone to know that her dog Felon is safe and healthy at home.

Dog theft has been an issue that ABC7 has reported on in the Bay Area before -- most of them involving French Bulldogs.

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In some cases they're held for ransom or the thief attempts to sell them.

Police say it's critical that anyone who's a victim reports it.

"There are investigative techniques that our detectives can use to track down these incidents," Camarillo said, "(Most) of what has happened recently in San Jose and other cities were able to find these dogs and reunite them with their owners."

For now police urge everyone who hasn't to get their dogs microchipped and be aware of surroundings when out walking, even in your own neighborhood.

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live