Goldendoodle Puppy Stolen From Campsite Returned to 'Happy' Family

A Utah family was reunited with their beloved pup after it was allegedly stolen during a camping trip in California.

The Grillo family was visiting a campground in San Diego, California on August 2 when they noticed their mini-Goldendoodle Chancho was not in his crate next to their tent.

Security footage from the recreational vehicle campground showed a dog that looked similar to Chancho being led on his leash by an unknown man, according to police.

Dognapping and Pet Theft

The heartwarming reunion occurred just weeks after a Florida woman drove more than 1,000 miles to reunite with her pitbull that had been missing for eight years. In April, another family was reunited with their stolen pup after 11 years.

Even celebrities have found themselves to be victims of pet theft, including Lady Gaga whose pups—that cost more than $100,000—were stolen from her dogwalker at gunpoint in February 2021.

Utah family reunited with stolen pup
After hearing about the family's missing dog, the suspect allegedly contacted the family to tell them the dog wasn't stolen but was sold to him at the campground. LSOphoto/iStock

According to a survey conducted by Peeva, a biotechnology company that provides pet identification methods, nearly one-third of all cats and dogs go missing in their lifetimes and 80 percent are never located.

Reports show that an estimated 2 million animals are stolen each year, with only 10 percent ever being returned to their owners.

A Happy Reunion

The family notified the San Diego Police Department and officers reviewing more hours of footage saw a man entering the park alone and leaving with what appeared to be Chancho.

After hearing about the missing pup on the local news, the suspect reportedly reached out to the family.

CBS8 reported that the man told the Grillo family that he didn't steal the dog, but instead purchased him from someone at the campsite.

Police successfully located Chancho and he was reunited with the Grillo family.

"After driving all night in eager anticipation, a Utah family will be reunited with their beloved mini Goldendoodle, Chancho, at San Diego Police Department's Northern Division," police told Newsweek.

The suspect, 40-year-old Johnny Smith, who was arrested on Thursday and was booked on felony theft charges. An arraignment is scheduled for Monday, police said.

Tips to Protect Pets

Police recommended individuals consider microchipping their pet and keep contact details up to date, especially if they intend on changing their phone number or address.

Individuals should also ensure their dogs always have a collar with an updated ID tag that includes contact information in case the dog is separated. Police also recommend having current photos of pets in case of an emergency to provide to police to prove ownership.

Police also suggest purchasing a GPS pet tracker that can attach to a pet's collar or harness and to never leave a dog unattended or off a leash in unfamiliar areas.

Newsweek reached out to the San Diego Police Department and the Grillo family for comment.