Stolen dog returned to Texas family injured, with an anonymous note attached
AUSTIN, Texas (WISN) -
Michelle Carnline, an Austin-area resident, said her family's 6-month-old chocolate Great Dane disappeared from her backyard on a Sunday evening two weeks ago.
At first, the family thought their dog, Landon, had somehow managed to escape. But after finding muddy human footprints in the backyard, it didn't take long to realize what had happened.
"That's when we called the cops," Carnline told Chron.com. "We knew somebody was in our backyard."
At the family's home, police found other signs of forced entry into the backyard, confirming their suspicion that the young Great Dane had been taken. Carnline immediately began posting on Facebook, desperately asking for the return of the dog, no questions asked.
The next day, Landon was back— but something was wrong.
"When they returned him, he had an open gash inside his right leg, and what looked like burn marks on the bottom of his paws, heels, side of his legs and on his butt," Carnline said.
A veterinarian told Carnline the dog's injuries were associated with being dragged, almost as if whoever took him dragged the dog out of the gate. In addition, the dog also had cuts between his toes, almost all the way to the bone, Carnline said.
Shortly after the dog's return, Carnline said she spotted a note taped to her husband's car.
"Hi there, my son took your dog," the anonymous note read. "I apologize he finally told us where he got him from. We will punish him accordingly. I do apologize again. Please don't get the police involved. He's just a kid."
Carnline called the police again and an officer came for the note, telling her they would check the piece of paper for fingerprints.
Carnline said she wouldn't have gotten authorities involved, like she promised or like the note asked, if the dog hadn't been so terribly injured. This week, Landon had his second surgery, is battling an infection, and got sick after having a negative reaction to the pain medicine he was given— complications the family set up a GoFundMe to pay for.
"There's no way we couldn't get police involved," Carnline said. "In our view, it kind of voided [our promise] when we saw how badly he was treated. We can't go up to him and give him a hug because he flinches. That's not our dog; he never used to act that way."
"If he was returned and he wasn't hurt, or maybe he was just hungry or dehydrated, we wouldn't have gone to the news and police," Carnline said. "But we need this person to be off the streets. If he's really a kid, what's to say he can't do that to somebody else?"