Puggle thrown from moving SUV reunited with owners
Mary Neals cried herself to sleep Sunday after Misty, the little Puggle she hadn't spent a day without since welcoming her into the family, left their Round Lake Park home and didn't return.
"It was a long night without her," Neals said.
But thanks to a police chief's sharp memory and shared fondness for the pug-beagle mix, Neals and Misty celebrated a joyous reunion Monday.
Now authorities want to know who threw the family dog out of a moving vehicle shortly after she disappeared from the family home Sunday afternoon.
"We just find it unfathomable somebody would treat an animal this way," said Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko. "This is obviously an intentional act."
"She's still a baby. She'll always be my baby," Neals said of the family's first pet, who turns 1 on Aug. 4. "After a while, honestly, I knew somebody had her. She's afraid of the dark. She knows where home is."
Round Lake Park police officers happened upon Misty about 6:22 p.m. Sunday while responding to a report of a suspicious circumstance on Washington Street near Fairlawn Drive.
"A woman is walking to work and sees a white SUV drive by on Washington and sees someone throw a (garbage) bag out the window," Filenko said. The woman saw something moving in the bag, peeked inside and there was Misty, somehow unharmed. She took Misty to a gas station/convenience mart nearby, Filenko said.
Police did not know who owned the dog until Filenko, himself a Puggle owner, remembered visiting the Neals' home in April. Misty caught his eye that day and he took a photograph of her to share with family.
On Monday, Filenko retrieved the photo from that visit and compared it with the Puggle found Sunday evening.
"We did kind of a dog lineup. It was pretty close," he said. "We decided to send somebody out to the (Neals') house and it turns out these people were frantic."
Neals said she was scared when she went to the police station and was questioned by officers, but her account of Misty's vanishing checked out and they were reunited Monday morning.
"We're convinced they weren't the ones involved (in throwing the dog) at all. They were visibly upset," Filenko said.
And while this animal story has a happy ending, authorities want to get to the bottom of Misty's disappearance.
"Just a white SUV. That's all we got. We're checking videotape in the area," Filenko said. "I'm looking to make an arrest."
Police planned to knock on doors Monday evening in hopes of learning more about what happened. And Neals' family will be keeping an eye out for a white SUV.
Filenko said there are many easily accessible options in the area if someone wants or needs to part ways with a dog. In the case of a stray, for example, Round Lake Park police will hold onto animals as long as possible waiting for contact from the owner.
"Some of our officers have adopted animals," he said.