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The 9th and Final Stolen Puppy from the Animal Shelter Inc. of Sterling, MA Found and Returned This Afternoon to the Shelter

April 12, 2011 by Tails Magazine in News with 0 Comments

An Update from Animal Shelter Inc.

Sterling, MA – Sunday, April 10, 2011 – The 9th and final puppy that was stolen from the Animal Shelter Inc. of Sterling, MA during a break-in on the night of Tuesday March 16th has finally been safely returned to the shelter as of this afternoon.

“We received a call from the Sterling Animal Control officer this morning who thought they might have a lead on our last puppy stolen almost 3 weeks ago. He stated the puppy was in Clinton – not Worcester so I honestly wasn’t holding out much hope because there had been so many false leads, sightings and tips and we were convinced the puppy might not even be alive. We weren’t sure if someone had her or she was abandoned like some of the other puppies,” stated Leigh Grady, Executive Director, Animal Shelter Inc. of Sterling.

The shelter director provided the Sterling ACO and police with the microchip information and the Sterling ACO and Police went to a woman’s home where they scanned the puppy and found the microchip matched with the Sterling stolen puppy. Louis Massa, the Sterling ACO returned the puppy mid-day.

“I was in tears once we had the confirmation from our ACO…and couldn’t figure out who to call first….our staff veterinarian was one of the 1st calls made to let her know Scout was back and safe, and of COURSE she wanted to come down and do a full exam on Scout to make sure she was healthy. Well Scout was so happy and yappy and wiggly it was hard to do anything with her! Aside from a possible eye infection which will be re-checked Monday to determine if she needs any antibiotics or eye ointment she seemed happy and excited to be home,” Grady continued.

“News spread like wildfire with staff and volunteers and we posted the updates and Scout’s photos on our 2 Facebook sites – we HAD to inform all our shelter friends and supporters…soooo many of them searched for her and posted flyers and prayed for her safe return! We simply can NOT thank the hundreds if not thousands of people who’ve searched, prayed, posted and followed this story….all our prayers have been answered… and our Facebook sites have blown up with the comments from our supporters and volunteers with cheers and happy posts and that all our prayers had been answered,” Grady added. “We have all been praying and searching and posting flyers and asking everyone all over Worcester and here she was found in Clinton!”

“All of the details aren’t out at this time but apparently the woman who had the puppy for about a week got Scout from someone in Worcester who was being evicted. Details are still unknown and the police and detectives are investigating all the information and if/how it’s possible there are connections with those arrested,” Grady finished.

The shelter staff is still asking for the public to sign a petition http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/prosecute-sterling-shelter-puppy-thieves/ asking the D.A’s office to prosecute to the full extent of the law those who’ve been arrested in this case. At this time 3 arrests have been made and a 4th arrest may be in the works. Additionally letters/faxes and emails can be sent to

Joseph D. Early Jr. – District Attorney
Worcester District Attorney’s Main Office
225 Main Street, Room G-301
Worcester, MA 01608
call (508) 755-8601 Fax: (508) 831-9899 email elizabeth.stammo@state.ma.us

PLEASE ALSO FOLLOW UP with faxing or mailing as their email box may be full and may accidentally be deleted and/or sign our petition online and spread the word to have these thieves and cruel people prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law

Jose L. Figueroa, 22, of 12 Winfield St., Apt. 1R, Worcester, admitted to police he stood watch outside the shelter the morning of March 17 while Jorge Benitez, 23, of 434 Park Ave., Apt. 2, Worcester, and a second man he identified as Miguel Alcoba broke in, stole the puppies and handed them off to him, police said. Mr. Figueroa told police he put the puppies into a stolen 1995 Honda Civic.

Mr. Figueroa is charged in Clinton District Court with breaking and entering in the nighttime to commit a felony; vandalizing property; larceny from a building; larceny over $250; cruelty to an animal; driving a motor vehicle after his license was revoked, third offense; use of a motor vehicle without authority; malicious destruction of property over $250; leaving the scene of property damage; failure to file an accident report; two counts of conspiracy of larceny over $250; and a subsequent offense of larceny of a motor vehicle.

Mr. Benitez is charged with breaking and entering in the nighttime to commit a felony; vandalizing property; larceny from a building; larceny over $250; cruelty to an animal; use of a motor vehicle without authority; malicious destruction of property over $250; and conspiracy of larceny over $250.

Sylvia M. Ortiz, 22, of 10 Everett Gaylord Blvd., Apt. 8, Worcester, is charged with one count of conspiracy of larceny over $250. Police found four of the puppies on a tiled floor in her bathroom with no food or water, accompanied by a strong smell of urine. One was shaking and appeared sick, according to Sterling Police Detective David R. Johnson’s report.

Their arraignments are scheduled for May 16 in Clinton District Court. Staff, volunteers, and shelter supporters are all expected to be there.

Mr. Figueroa told police that Ms. Ortiz wanted a dog, but they could not afford one, so she asked him to steal one from Sterling Animal Shelter. He is Ms. Ortiz’s ex-brother-in-law, court documents said, and is dating one of her friends and stays at Ms. Ortiz’s apartment from time to time.

“So he, Jorge Benitez (aka Cuba), and Miguel Alcoba (aka Mike) drove to Sterling on the morning of 3-17-11, driving around side streets looking to steal a Honda Civic,” Detective Johnson said in his report.

After finding a Honda Civic at 18 Maple St., they smashed out the window and stole the car. Mr. Figueroa drove to
64 Leominster Road to pick up Mr. Alcoba and Mr. Benitez. They then drove to Laurelwood Road, passed the shelter, threw out clothes and books from the vehicle, and drove back to the shelter, according to Detective Johnson’s report.

After stealing the puppies, the trio drove back to Leominster Road. They crashed the Honda Civic into a retaining wall at
64 Leominster Road, placed eight of the puppies into the trunk of their waiting vehicle and transported the ninth puppy in the passenger area of the vehicle, the report says. Mr. Figueroa said they abandoned the Honda Civic because they “did not know what the police were like in this area,” according to Detective Johnson’s report.

They drove back to Worcester and split up the puppies near a new school near Plumley Village. Mr. Figueroa said he left three of the dogs in Ms. Ortiz’s apartment and gave one away, according to Detective Johnson’s report.

In court documents, Mr. Figueroa is described as a “common known thief” who has 27 entries on his adult criminal record and an additional 22 entries on his juvenile record, including receiving stolen property, breaking and entering in the nighttime to commit a felony, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a vehicle and possession of burglary tools. He was out on $500 cash bail on a charge of intimidation of a witness when Worcester police picked him up on a warrant. He and Mr. Benitez are being held at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction in West Boylston until their arraignments.

No further information was available Friday on the status of Mr. Alcoba. When shown photos, Mr. Figueroa positively identified Mr. Benitez, but could not identify Mr. Alcoba, according to Detective Johnson’s report.

For more information and updates as they come in please check www.sterlingshelter.org for information…

OR the Sterling Shelter Facebook Page for updates posted multiple times daily http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sterling-Shelter/124189720927807

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