Social media helps get Omaha man’s stolen puppy back home

Given the cost of the German Shepherd puppy, the person who took the dog could face a Class 4 Felony charge
A puppy stolen from a gated yard in Omaha has been found and returned home.
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 6:36 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Good news. The puppy that was stolen from a gated yard has been found and returned home.

“He’s just a great puppy. I’m really glad he’s home,” said Russell Houlden, the owner.

Two Sundays ago, Russell Houlden’s new, German Shepherd puppy, Storm, was stolen from his gated yard. Less than 24 hours later, 6 News obtained security footage from a neighbor that caught the theft on camera.

In the video, a red, GMC with temporary tags and tinted windows is seen lying in wait. A person pulls up, steals the puppy, and drives off.

“I didn’t sleep for nine days…I would wake up in the middle of the night trying to figure this out,” Houlden said.

Then, he got a message on Facebook.

“When the person saw a car with a dealer tag, he was able to discern that that was very likely the car.”

Immediately, Houlden alerted the Omaha Police Department about the tip.

“They identified the vehicle, the vehicle’s owner, and contacted them. The owner stated it was a family member of hers that drove the vehicle. And when they asked her if she happened to have a new dog in the house recently, she said, ‘Yes, as matter of fact I have this puppy that my son says it’s his,’” said Officer Chris Gordon with the Omaha Police Department.

Officers then told the unsuspecting mother the puppy was stolen.

Houlden and OPD believe it was the story and power of social media that brought Storm home.

“Whoever had him, they at least took decent care of this puppy,” said Houlden.

Now, Storm is back in his rightful home.

“Social media really helped out a bunch on this one, especially with someone seeing the story,” Gordon said.

When asked if he ever lost hope, Houlden said: “I started to learn that it could be months before I got him back.”

That’s because Storm is registered to Houlden with a microchip, but it could have taken a long time for him to be discovered by a veterinarian or shelter, if found at all. Omaha Police said that nince days was a fast resolution for this type of case.

“Like an animal, that you wouldn’t necessarily have a tracking thing or a GPS attached to it, sometimes those things can be impossible to get back,” said Gordon.

Houlden’s thankful it didn’t come to that.

“This puppy is not out of my sight ever again. Until he’s old enough to fend for himself,” Gordon said.

As of now, no charges have been filed. Although, given the cost of the puppy, it would be considered a Class 4 Felony in Nebraska.

If the owner wanted to move forward with legal action, he could. Right now, Houlden is just happy to have his puppy back in his arms.