Dognappings have been on the rise lately, leaving many families heartbroken and worried after thieves take off with their beloved pets.
But thankfully, one family got their stolen dog back after receiving some help from a local Marine Corps veteran.
Raquel Witherspoon was heartbroken after her family’s beloved pet Yorkie, Avery, was stolen from her property back in June. A doorbell camera captured the moment the dog thief lured Avery with treats before walking away with the dog in hand.
The dog belonged to her 12-year-old daughter Semaj, who was devastated by the loss. “He’s a family member, he’s my grandson and he’s her son and we had him for three years, he means the world to us,” Raquel told WJLA in June.
Raquel and her family began searching everywhere for Avery, placing signs around the neighborhood — but that led to the situation taking an even more frightening turn.
The dognappers began sending threatening texts messages to the family, including a video of the poor Yorkie locked in a cage.
According to the Washington Post, the family plead for the dog’s release, but the dognappers mocked them with laughter and demanded a ransom of $1,200.
Negotiations reportedly collapsed, and the dognappers went silent. Now a life-or-death situation, the family became even more desperate to get their dog back before it was too late.
Thankfully, they got some much-needed help: Richard Machamer, an Iraq war veteran who served in the US Marine Corps, offered to use his skills to track down the thieves and get Avery back.
“The news just happened to flash up a reward poster,” Machamer told Good Morning America. “I texted her `at that number and told her that I could help if she wanted it.”
Machamer got to work, going down “rabbit holes” and attempting to extract geolocation data, to no success. Eventually, the vet resorted to what he called a “Hail Mary”: he put the dognapper’s phone number into his own phone, hoping it would lead to their social media.
Miraculously, it worked: Machamer’s Instagram, connected to his phone number, recommended he follow an account associated with the phone number — the profile of a body piercing business. On the Instagram, he found a 16-year-old who matched the appearance of the dognapper in the doorbell video.
Police reportedly arrested the 16-year-old suspect, and Avery was finally brought home safely.
The little dog was thrilled to finally be home and see her family again, and needless to say the family was very happy to have her back.
“I was like, ‘They got him back!’” Semaj, now 13, told the Post. “I didn’t want to face the reality of not seeing my dog again.”
And it was mission accomplished for this Marine, who used his military skills for a cause close to his own heart, as the owner of a Norwegian elkhound and a Pomeranian.
“I have two dogs of my own,” said Machamer. “I couldn’t fathom my reaction if someone took one, especially if they sent a picture of one in a cage.”
We’re so glad Avery is finally home! Thank you to veteran Richard Machamer for tracking the kidnappers down and bringing her home safe and sound!
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