A Pet's Life

Stolen Golden Retriever Reunited With Owner In Encinitas California



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A Golden Retriever that had been stolen from an Encinitas woman’s yard earlier this month was returned to her owner after an Amazon delivery driver took the dog after leaving a package at her door.

On October 9, Denise Reppenhagen stated that her daughter had arrived home a little before her, greeted the dogs, and shut the garage door. She was unaware that Finn had been left outside. Reppenagen’s good boy was gone when she arrived home.

One of Reppenhagen’s neighbors looked over surveillance footage from one of their home security cameras that was recorded on October 9. The footage showed a woman thought to be an Amazon driver delivering packages in the neighborhood, according to Sheriff’s reports. One delivery was made to Reppenhagen’s house.

Finn was eventually able to return home thanks to the video, which showed a delivery woman loading the golden retriever into her car and leaving. Reppenhagen informed the local media about the theft and reported it to the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station.

According to San Diego County Sheriff’s, a viewer reportedly saw news coverage of Finn’s dognapping and contacted detectives, claiming to know who the driver was. On October 29, sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at a San Diego residence and took 36-year-old Dena Vindiola into custody.

Although Finn was not at Vindiola’s house, she acknowledged taking the dog. She works for a third-party delivery company that has contracts to deliver packages for Amazon, according to detectives. According to Vindiola, she tried giving the dog to a friend and then her mother, but neither wanted Finn, so she gave him to an El Centro animal shelter.

Finn was picked up in El Centro on Saturday, according to Trish Forsythe of Labrador Rescuers, a nonprofit organization, after a shelter notified the rescue that Finn would be happier there. After that, Finn was placed with a foster family, who looked after him until he met Denise again.

“We got notification early this morning that he had a previous owner and that’s what got this ball rolling. We got a voicemail that the owner had gotten an alert from the microchip and that we had her dog, so we made arrangements to meet up,” said Forsythe.

Forsythe claimed that after receiving dogs, they take them to the veterinarian and, if they are microchipped, register that microchip so that they can be notified if the dog is being searched for.

“We’re big advocates in microchipping your dog, but registering your microchip is huge,” Forsythe said.   

Reppenhagen was overjoyed and relieved to see Finn again.

“I am beyond happy. I don’t know what’s beyond happy, but I’m there,” she said.

“It’s just been incredible the networking of the community. The army of community that has been searching and working together to find Finn,” she said. “This is my child. My adult children are grownups and they have their own lives. They’re out of the house now. So these are my children now.”

Vindiola was detained by sheriff’s deputies for grand theft and other charges. She was taken into custody at the Vista Detention Facility.

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