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'It was a wild goose chase': Family reunited with dog that was stolen and taken 50 miles away

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Posted at 6:49 AM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 12:51:09-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WTKR) - Claire, a 1-year-old pit bull mix belonging to James and Amber Holda, was playing soccer in her Dam Neck yard on Tuesday.

"She loves to play defense,"said James Holda.

Claire has been away, literally on a rollercoaster ride since Thursday.

"She got through a crack in the fence," said James.

After the Holdas noticed Claire escaped, they immediately checked their home surveillance cameras.

"You can see Claire on the left of your screen running in the court, and you can see a woman scooping up the dog and putting it in her car," said James.

The rest of the story is complicated, but basically the owners called the police, filed a report and put up reward signs all within minutes.

An hour later, they oddly got a picture of Claire texted to their phone.

"Someone had identified the dog, and said, 'I know who has it,' and that started the wild goose chase," said James.

Through a tattoo on the alleged dognappers arm, the couple took to Facebook and became amateur detectives asking for help. Within minutes, someone gave them a name and number of who they thought took Claire.

"I was able to text her picture and say, 'Hey, we know who you are, and the police are involved,'" James said.

The person on the other end said they thought the dog was lost and said it was with them in Suffolk.

"They said, 'We didn't mean to take the dog; we wanted to turn it in, but it jumped out,'" James explained.

Another tipster called the family and said the alleged dognapper was staying in a motel in Suffolk, so the family hightailed it there.

"We went to the motel looking for the car," said Amber Holda.

Guests at the motel told the Holdas they had seen the dog handed off to another person, another twist.

"We were anxious - so many ups and downs and clues; so many leads. So close, so many times," said Amber.

After chasing down leads and putting up more reward posters of Claire, they got a call Monday night.

"The guy said he had the dog and was willing and straightforward to give her back," said James.

That person said they were given the dog and had it in Windsor.

"It was a rabbit chase," said James.

Four days later, Claire was reunited with her family.

"The reunion was something else. Her tongue was out, tail waggin', and everyone was in tears," said James.

The Holdas say they have many people to thank on Facebook for helping them follow the breadcrumbs. No arrests have been made, but Virginia Beach Police are investigating.

This story originally reported by Chelsea Donovan on WTKR.com