Of the 28 puppies and full-grown dogs that went missing in a pet transport van that was stolen on Sunday night, 27 have now been recovered. But one cute brown bulldog puppy remains missing, having apparently been sold in Oakland by a suspect who is now in custody.
What was originally reported to be a group of 30 dogs that went missing turns out to have been 28 dogs, and now all but the one three-month-old puppy, named Papo, have been found. As ABC 7 reports, the pup's rightful owner is Tacoma, Washington resident Michelle Roman, and she found out Tuesday that Oakland Animal Services did not have custody of her dog — whom she presumably had not met yet. What is now clear is that Papo did not come from breeder Julie Bingham, who was also the operator of the transport van that was stolen. As SFist reported Monday, Bingham both operates a cross-country pet transport business out of Florida, as well as Bingham's Bulldogs, an English and French bulldog breeding concern.
"We had two English bulldogs and one passed away in August, so our other dog he's been really sad and lonely, so we wanted to buy a companion for him," says Roman, speaking to ABC 7. "We found him from a breeder in Kansas and we've been waiting a while for him to be born and [be] old enough for him to come be with us."
Meanwhile, police were able to locate the other missing puppy, named Fable, who is white and is now with her new human near Portland, Oregon, as KPIX reports. Owner Tracy Smith told the station she felt as though her "baby" had been stolen, and she said Tuesday, "I am so happy to say that Fable is safe and in our custody tonight. I want to thank the people who had her and took care of her. They did not know that she was stolen, and turned her over to us."
Now we need to focus on Papo. We need the same energy to help find him. We will accept anonymous tips. Text Tip FremontPD followed by a short message to 888777. pic.twitter.com/2j2fxTbxTi— Fremont Police Department (@FremontPD) December 11, 2019
Bingham's white 2016 Ford transit van was stolen from the parking lot of an Extended Stay America hotel in Fremont on Sunday night. Bingham explained Monday that she had stopped off to get some sleep after dropping of a dog in Sunnyvale, and while she would typically sleep in the van, there was no room due to the number of dog crates she was transporting. She locked the van though she left it running with the keys in the ignition for ventilation, and it was stolen between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Using the van's GPS tracker, police were able to locate the van in Oakland by 11 a.m. on Monday, at which point the dogs were taken into the custody of Oakland Animal Services. As the Mercury News reports, Bingham has 10 days to appear at a hearing in order to prove that she had ownership or rightful custody of the dogs. Early reports suggested the van was clean and the dogs were safe, however Rebecca Katz, director of the Oakland Animal Shelter, tells the Mercury News there are "concerns" about the manner in which the dogs were being transported.
In addition to puppies being transported to new owners, Bingham was also reportedly transporting older dogs for stud, and rescue dogs who were being taken to no-kill shelters on this side of the country. She was on the second-leg of a lengthy cross-country trip when she stopped off to sleep on Sunday.
As the Chronicle reported, two men were arrested in connection with the van theft, one of whom, a 24-year-old male, is suspected as the thief.
Anyone with information about Papo's whereabouts is asked to call Fremont Police Dispatch at 510-790-6800 ext. 3, or send an anonymous tip by texting "Tip FremontPD" followed by a short message to 888777.