TALLADEGA, Ala. (WIAT) — A dog that was in a vehicle when it was stolen is now back with its family, thanks to a Good Samaritan from Talladega.
Authorities believe the dog and suspect went through at least 4 states before being caught in Heflin, Alabama.
Over the weekend, a vehicle was stolen from a grocery store parking lot in Tupleo, Mississippi.
Family members left a small dog inside the running vehicle while shopping. After returning from the store, the vehicle and dog were gone.
“We made flyers, we put them all over town,” said Mary Underwood.
Underwood eventually took her search to social media, posting photos of her dog named “Puddles.”
Meanwhile, Shannon Jordan spotted a dog just over the state line in Georgia. Jordan works as a nurse at Regional Medical Center in Anniston.
“I keep dog food in my car. I hate seeing dogs that are missing, lost, or thrown out,” said Jordan.
Jordan initially thought the dog was abandoned, but thought twice when she noticed a pony tail and trimmed nails.
“I told my friend, I said, ‘I don’t think no one dumped this dog out,” said Jordan.
After returning home to Talladega, Jordan posted a photo of the missing dog to Facebook.
In nearby Heflin, a patrol officer happened to spot a suspicious vehicle parked in the lot of a business that was closed.
“I see this car and It’s sitting kind of cockeyed in the exit entrance, so it raised my suspicion,” said Chris Cohran with Heflin Police.
Cohran talked with the man in the car and ran the plates.
“The vehicle comes back stolen,” said Cohran.
Despite finding the stolen vehicle, Puddles was nowhere to be found. HPD contacted police in Tupelo and got more information about the dog.
The officers were moved and found a photo of Puddles to share on the city’s Facebook page.
“To the owner of that dog. It’s just not a dog, it’s a part of the family,” said Cohran.
A woman recognized the dog in the city’s post because she is also friends with Shannon Jordan.
She tagged Jordan in the photo, connecting the parties for a special reunion in a Talladega parking lot.
“All the bad on social media spreads just like this, so something good to spread, I’m pretty happy about that,” said Cohran.
Heflin Police arrested James O’Neal Nabor. Investigators believe Nabor traveled with Puddles from Tupelo to Memphis and later to Atlanta.
“What we’re trying to do is help any citizen we can, even if it’s outside the city of Heflin,” said Cohran.
Officers smiled as they watched the reunion video, knowing they helped play a small part in returning the most important piece of stolen property.
“We try to make a difference and obviously a small department like we are can make a difference all the way in Mississippi,” said Cohran.
The Underwoods are thrilled to have their dog back home, and thankful to everyone who helped.
“I was just jumping up and down going crazy, and my dad was crying also, and I’ve never seen my dad cry,” said Underwood.
Heflin Police told CBS 42 Nabor confessed to stealing the car from the parking lot. He is still in the Cleburne County jail, but will be transported back to Tupelo to face charges.