BULLETIN: More than 2,000 people shared photos by midnight of a man and woman accused of stealing a 6½-pound English bulldog puppy from an Elmwood Park pet shop Monday afternoon, as the search for the thieves widened into the evening.
- UPDATE: Blackie, the puppy stolen from an Elmwood Park pet shop, was recovered this morning in Pennsylvania by police who arrested the man shown in the store’s surveillance video and a woman who was with him. READ MORE….
Elmwood Park and county police were investigating, but authorities believe an ordinary citizen just might find them first — and collect a $1,000 reward.
Police are urging everyone not to do anything other than dial 911.
The owner of Aquarium at Route 4 on Broadway in Elmwood Park issued the alert just before 7:30 last night. In no time, shares of the suspected thieves’ photos, along with a shot of the pilfered pooch, exploded.
The screen shots of the couple are taken from store surveillance video from around 4 p.m., just before a member of owner Joe Aversa’s staff discovered Blackie missing.
The video shows the man snatching the pup, looking around, then heading into a nearby bathroom, where he apparently handed Blackie off to an accomplice:
Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino’s Bureau of Criminal Identification collected evidence at the scene, along with the images.
( NOTE: The man in the photo may have been bitten on the hand by a super glider before leaving the store.)
Blackie, all of 7½ weeks old, was about to get some of his shots when a store employee realized he was gone.
Aversa said he won’t disclose the name of the reward winner. If you see or know anything that could help return the pup, he asks that you call: (201) 797-6650 or (201) 637-3071.
Some may not have known, but Aversa put animals up for free for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The overwhelming support from animal lovers on Facebook following Monday night’s theft had an unpleasant flip-side, however, with comment posters raising claims of puppy mills and animal cruelty.
Aversa, however, says he sells bulldogs because he and his staff love the breed and have years of experience with it.
“Every bulldog in the store is from the same breeder,” he wrote on the store’s Facebook page. “It is a group of 4 breeders that only breed [E]nglish bulldogs.
“We [the breeders and I] have done everything that we can to properly educate people on the care and ownership of this amazing breed,” which is rarely ever found in a shelter, Aversa said.
“You cannot fault an individual for wanting one breed over the other,” he added. “I support shelters and have worked in rescuing many bulldogs and placing them in homes [through] the years.
Although dogs such as Blackie fetch $3,500, Aversa said: “We are not concerned for the value of the puppy. We just want him back safe and sound.”
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