Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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"Ruff" four days for stolen pup, reunited with owner

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BATON ROUGE -  A dog is back home with her owner after being dog-napped near downtown Baton Rouge.

While Alissa Garafalo was at work last Friday, two men kicked in the door of her apartment. A neighbor saw one of the men holding her shih tzu, Stella, and began asking questions.

"They started talking about how they needed money for chasing her down, that they had done a favor," Garafalo said.

The men told the neighbor they would give Stella back in exchange for money. The neighbor didn't have any cash and the two men walked off with the dog. Nothing else was taken from the apartment.

Police responded to the call, but could not find Stella. After a weekend search, they did.  Monday, they settled the bizarre situation.

"We went to the general area where the apartment was, and just started asking questions; neighbors, anyone walking in the street and we got lucky and got a lead," said Baton Rouge Police detective Chris Stewart.

A man told police he had seen a small white shih tzu and took police to a homeless shelter in the area. He described the person he had last seen with the dog.

The man at the shelter then took police to a house where police found Stella, in the care of a woman who told police she purchased the dog for $7.  She agreed to give the dog back.

"You know, it's an expensive dog to go for $7 on the street, but that's just the street.  That is kind of the nature of the beast," said Stewart.

Stewart reunited Stella with Garafalo, who was happy to have her dog back.

"She's a little princess, I love her to death!"

Stewart said dogs are stolen in Baton Rouge and are rarely found. Police are still investigating who took the dog in the first place.


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