Funny Chihuahua Stories
The preposterous case of the pink Chihuahua
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Casey, a Chihuahua-corgi mix, was abducted while she was ...
Susan Leong stopped at nothing to find the man who stole her dog. She called police, she offered a $1,000 reward, she even hired a private investigator.
This week, thanks largely to her own persistence and sleuthing, Leong has her dog back. It's now pink, the result of an odd attempt by the thief to disguise it, but it's still her pet.
Leong's hunt started the afternoon of Nov. 8 when she went shopping at her neighborhood Safeway in San Francisco's Marina District and left Casey, her Chihuahua-corgi mix, tied up outside.
While she shopped, police said Tuesday, a man came up to the 5-year-old female dog, gave her a few pats and drove off with her in a Mercedes-Benz.
"Dognapping is serious, especially if you're a dog owner," Lt. Tom Buckley said. "She was frantic."
The dognapper had aroused suspicion, however, and one witness outside the store got a partial license plate number for the Mercedes and a good description of the thief. The witness knew something was wrong because Casey kept looking out of the back window as if she was missing her owner, Buckley said.
Leong called police, alerted the city's animal control department and hired a private eye with Cannon Street Inc. Investigations, run by former FBI agent Rick Smith.
"She was going to do everything she possibly could," Smith said.
On Nov. 18, after days scouring the neighborhood and putting up flyers, Leong spotted Casey with a man near Moscone Playground in the Marina. It was in the exact Mercedes-Benz described by the witness at the Safeway.
Leong shouted to the man, "That's my dog!'' The man insisted the dog was his, jumped into the car and took off.
Leong got the full license number, and the first two characters matched the car outside the grocery store. The registered address was the Metropolitan Community Church on Eureka Street.
Police watched the church last week, but the man didn't show. Cannon investigators took up the stakeout, and on Friday, 49-year-old Jeffery Snyder of San Francisco drove up in the Mercedes -- with a Chihuahua-corgi, its freshly shaved fur dyed pink.
"The hair was dyed to alter its appearance" after Leong spotted Casey near the playground, Buckley said.
The private investigators called 911, and police came to make the arrest. Buckley said that, dye job aside, the dog is fine.
Snyder, who did custodial work for the church last year and sometimes had meals there, told police he had bought Casey from a homeless man. Investigators, however, said witnesses have identified him as the thief.
He was charged with grand theft and other crimes and released on bail.
Leong didn't want to be interviewed after being reunited with her pet, but Smith said she was pleasantly surprised it all ended so well.
"She loves the little dog,'' Smith said. "She is very pleased she got her animal back in a situation where she was fairly sure it wasn't going to happen. ''
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