Molly the Dog Stolen Outside P Street Whole Foods – Returned Safely by MPD!

The case of Molly’s dognapping sparked a huge debate on DCist. It was pretty much a debate over whether or not it is ok to leave your dog outside when you go into store. How ever you feel about the issue, it’s great news the dog has been returned!

Here is some background:

“She has been seen twice at Petco in Cleveland Park with Molly – once on Monday night and again tonight. We are positive that it is Molly because the store manager and a customer (and Vizsla owner) described the dog as having a shaved patch on one of her forelegs. Molly has this patch from an IV for dental surgery last week. When the woman took her into Petco on Monday night, she still had her pink cupcake collar with tags. When she was in the store tonight, she was wearing a black harness with no collar. The woman told a customer tonight that someone gave her the dog. This description matches that of the one eyewitness who saw a person “messing” with Molly the night she was taken.”

And here’s the word from the owners:

“We wanted to let everyone know the wonderful news that our beloved Molly dog was recovered late tonight by the Metropolitan Police Department. She is back home and seems to be in good health, although tired. I plan to take her to the vet tomorrow.

The MPD District 3 investigator, who did an excellent job, couldn’t give me all of the details because of the way criminal investigations work. However, he did say that the woman who had her appeared to have mental health issues. I am hopeful that some court-ordered mental health treatment for the woman will result from this so that she does not take other dogs in the future, or spiral into more destructive behavior.

In any event, we want to offer our most heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported us and provided tips and leads. Without those leads, it’s unlikely the police would have had enough information to justify spending time investigating. I should also say that before the MPD investigator was assigned to the case, a D3 officer was very helpful in working with us. We will write letters commending both of them to their supervising officers. “

51 Comment

  • It should not have be returned to the negligent owners.

  • I am overjoyed to hear this news. I believe the owners have learned a difficult but valuable lesson and I’ hope many other dog owners learned something too.

    Remember before you say something about this couple, that judge them like you would want to be judged. Everyone makes mistakes…

  • As a dog lover I am very happy they got their pet returned.

    As a tax payer, don’t the police have something better to do?

  • I’m happy the dog is safe, however I’m unhappy that the owners are allowed off the hook from being negligent pet owners. To the person above, I am judging them as I would want to be judged. If I left my dog outside I’d want someone to find me, slap me upside the head, and ask what the hell is wrong with me.

    On that note, I hope they don’t leave Molly tied up free for the taking anymore.

  • As a taxpayer, I think this is just as worthy a cause for police action and am happy that their investigative efforts proved fruitful. As with other commentors, I too hope that Molly’s owners will learn from this even and not leave her unattended anymore…but congratulate them on getting her back.

  • Definitely glad the dog was returned to its rightful owner, but seriously, to echo anon at 10:30 am, why can’t the MPD do as good a job investigating and solving murders and other people on people crimes as they do the dog ones? Spend my tax money better please.

  • This is wonderful news. To have your pet taken or lost is a horrific event. I am very happy that the owners have their pup back.

    I also say leave the owners alone. They simply made the mistake of trusting the people of this crazy-ass shit-hole of a city. I am certain that the owners have now sadly learned the lesson that so many of us have – that if you live in DC you don’t trust anyone to do the right or honest thing.

  • some are blaming the pet owner. i just think it sucks we can live in a world where we can’t even expect our dogs to not be stolen. i would be real nervous about leaving a dog out front of any supermarket around here where it’s going to be out of sight for a while. I do do it at carry outs/coffee shops/bakeries etc., though.

  • More of my tax money down the drain. Thanks. MPD, onto the next dog/cat/fish napping.

  • Did logic just fly out the window on this thread? The fact that this case was solved successfully by police while other “people on people” crimes go unsolved is not an indication that the police were working harder on this than on other cases. They got good tips, and the right fortunes to be able to solve this crime. Just as they do in dozens of other crimes. Some investigations get the right breaks, some don’t and never get solved. That’s just the way it is. The way some of these comments read, you’d think they had an all-hands MPD commitment to finding Molly while crime ran rampant. Get a grip, people.

  • I’m with Ian. Relax. It sounds like Petco had more to do with the dog being returned than MPD anyway…

  • Blaming the owners in this case is absurd. People should be able to leave their fricking dog outside for a second to go buy a loaf of bread. It’s offensive that they have to suffer the self-righteousness of you judgmental halfwits because they reasonably believed that their goddamn dog wouldn’t be stolen for two minutes outside a Whole Foods.

    In any case, I’m glad the dog was found. You people who are putting this on the owners need to reassess some things and maybe think twice before posting your thoughts on the internet again.

  • Go Ian! After reading this post, I have decided that the general tenor of this blog is way too negative. I am done here.

  • I enter this fray carefully! Not as a hater, but…the owners themselves admitted to shopping for over 20 minutes. That’s a lot! The last time I was at Whole Foods a tiny perfectly groomed toy poodle strained at her leash to get to me while I locked my bike nearby. She was so not liking being left alone.
    In the 80’s and early 90’s, if you read the Post’s crime reports, there was never a week when one or more dogs, usually full blood breed puppies wasn’t reported stolen. That Vizla was a real target. And yeah it’s crappy that it happens and that is our world but that isn’t just DC at all.

  • i dont think people should be owning dogs anyway… these enslaved creatures deserve to live free in the wild

  • Yes, TonyS. I’m sure your pet Chihuahua would last a long time in the wild.

  • I’m very happy for the owners. I’m sort of unhappy for the negative posters here, though.

  • To those of you who are complaining about tax dollars being wasted on this, I have to ask: Would you rather have police officers working to recover a stolen dog, or sitting on their lazy asses, like they usually do?

  • Rick, why does it have to be a) or b)? Can’t we have a c), I’d rather have police officers working to solve violent crimes. Or is my only choice, pet rescue, or lazy ass sitting?

  • You people suck. You’re the same people who tell women who are raped that they shouldn’t have been walking alone at night.

    Negligent dog owner my buttocks. Leaving your dog outside to go in and get a drink and a sandwich is not negligence, it’s every day life.

    The murders in this city ARE getting solved. Crime is crime. How about mentoring a teenager instead of moaning about wasted services. That would be a productive use of your time.

  • Even with this Molly dognapping media blitz, there was a dog incident at my local Safeway Saturday night. A black lab mix was tied up to the shopping carts outside the front door and got really worked up over being left alone, barking and lunging toward the people trying to enter the store. Safeway security guards tried to find the owner but after about five minutes gave up and called animal control. I stayed with the dog because I didn’t want MPD or others harming her because her behavior could be mistaken for aggression. Finally, 20 minutes later a young woman came out of the store for the dog. 20 minutes!!! People – please, please please do not leave your animals unattended. If they truely are members of your family, then treat them like you would a three year-old kid. And if you tie your kids outside the Safeway, I don’t want to know…

  • Maybe Whole Foods and Safeway could install kennels on the front of the store that one could put their doggie in and padlock.

  • Really? People are complaining about MPD accomplishing something? So someone in Cleveland Park called and said there’s a lady right here with a stolen dog, and they came and took it back to the owners. How dare they.

    But really — let’s stop with the blame here. Some nutjob stole their dog. Its her fault, just like if someone steals your car, its the car theif’s fault. Everyone take a deep breath, and be glad that the pup is back with its loving owners who have every right to raise their dog, who is so well trained that they can trust him outside of Whole Foods. Unfortunately not all people can be trusted so much as Molly.

  • hopefully the owners learned a good lession about abandoning for 20 minutes.

  • This isn’t like someone stealing a car, it’s like leaving your car running with the keys in it and the doors open – and just like that, it’s also illegal:

    DC Code § 8-1808. Prohibited conduct.
    (a) No owner of an animal shall allow the animal to go at large…

    § 8-1801. Definitions.
    For the purposes of this chapter:
    (1) The term “animal at large” means any animal found off the premises of its owner and neither leashed nor otherwise under the immediate control of a person capable of physically restraining it…

  • ontariorider:

    Try reading the very short section you cited. It is not prohibited if the dog is on a leash, as the dog was in this case.

    You people need to STFU and find a new cause.

  • I can’t believe how cynical people are.

  • What animal mother said…both times.

  • I don’t think the owners were negligent. They took a risk, but we all take risks when we wear our headphones and park our cars on the street at night. And I am glad to hear that the MPD was able to return the dog and identify a person in need of mental health assistance.

    I do hope that MPD had a chat with both the owners and Petco employees. DCist reported that after the dog was first spotted at Petco, they called the owners who then–the owners, not MPD–“authorized” the store employees to detain the woman!!! Since when is it appropriate to engage in vigilante behavior! If they wanted to call the cops because the woman stole something or exhibited disruptive behavior, that is certainly within their rights, but detaining someone because you suspect they committed a crime in another time and place is completely over the line. I don’t think I will be shopping at Petco any more. I really cannot support a business that takes the law into their own hands.

  • The owners are clearly not negligent pet owners. good lord people. Whine all you want and be surprised when the police disagree with you, sheesh.

  • the owners, not MPD–”authorized” the store employees to detain the woman!!! Since when is it appropriate to engage in vigilante behavior!

    It is ALWAYS appropriate to do this, though risky. This is called a “Citizen’s arrest” and if it’s unlawful it would be called “unlawful arrest.”

    Sometimes I wonder what kind of education kids get these days. we had a whole workshop on this in civics class in 1982.

  • Is taking a pet a felony? I ask genuinely – my sister and her friend (yes, it’s a little odd) looked pretty carefully at the requirements for a citizen’s arrest some years ago (also, her husband is a cop). Apparently it needs to be a felony for a citizen to be authorized to make an arrest.

  • I’m so happy Molly was returned!

  • i dont think people should be owning dogs anyway… these enslaved creatures deserve to live free in the wild

    Dogs are pack animals, most of them are perfectly ok with their situation because it’s what they consider normal. It’s not like you’re keeping rabbits or birds.

  • Apparently it needs to be a felony for a citizen to be authorized to make an arrest.

    you may be right and if so, then please accept my apologies. I am going by Maryland law in the early 1980s, not DC. However I was a little bit involved in the community apprehension of a purse snatcher.

    From wikipedia, “The application of state laws varies widely with respect to misdemeanors, breaches of the peace, and felonies not witnessed by the arresting party. American citizens do not carry the authority or enjoy the legal protections of police, and are held to the principle of strict liability before the courts of civil- and criminal law including but not limited to any infringement of another’s rights.”

  • Thanks, Neener. My sister’s interest was about five years ago, but it sounds like it could vary state by state.

    In any case, I’m very happy for the family that they got their dog back, and we all make mistakes (myself paramount among the examples), but I really think it’s a terrible idea to leave one’s dog tied up outside a store for that long. Period.

  • Not only does it need to be a felony, but you need to witness it. You can’t take the word of someone else that a person committed a crime a few weeks ago 10 miles away.

  • I checked with our security guards and they said they’re allowed under DC law to make a citizen’s arrest for misdemeanors if they see it and a felony if they have really really really good suspicions that a person committed a felony even if they didn’t see it.

  • Sorry to add to the cynicism, but what strikes me about this story is the difference between living in Ward 3 and Ward 4. In Ward 3 the police will go to great lengths to help recover a stolen dog, while in Ward 4 the police will barely lift a finger to help recover a stolen car or worse.

    It’s probably a question of resources, and the amount and type of crime that occurs in each Ward, but the difference is striking.

  • Neener: Security guards, yes. And by ‘good suspicion’ they mean they have to have heard gunshots or seen broken glass followed by alarms going off and a person running from the vicinity in order to detain someone. And they can only detain a suspect for suspicion of a felony ON THE PROPERTY THAT THEY ARE GUARDING.

    A cashier reading about a dog theft from several weeks ago and deputizing themselves is not only illegal it is reckless and stupid. The next time that cashier tries it the alleged perpetrator may not be a docile mental patient but a violent and armed person.

  • I’m just happy nobody has stole me from out front of the Safeway when Lil’ Gal leaves me there to go buy bread.

  • im so happy you got your dog back. for all of you crying foul, have some faith, all have at some time or other have made poor choices. most of us dont make the same mistake twice. enjoy your dog!!!

  • To the people throwing salt at the good samaritans who risked their own safety to detain a criminal who they understood committed a very serious crime: STFU. I’m sure they don’t get paid enough to put themselves in harms way, and they probably don’t even have authorization from their employer to detain people, but they did it because it’s the right thing to do. i hope all the haters get beat down on the street and not have someone step in because everyone is worried about getting hurt or wondering if they have the authority to stop a criminal.

  • Um, RD, they don’t need authorization from their EMPLOYER. The US constitution prevents a person from detaining another. As said earlier, IF the cashier had personally witnessed a criminal act, then they have justification to detain someone.

    It isn’t the right thing to do to read something on a blog and then start arresting people because you feel a sense of moral superiority. Leave the arresting to the cops.

  • I certainly hope that the residents of the neighborhoods PoP represents don’t think they have a right to make citizens arrests! Next thing you know we’ll have PoP readers intervening on behalf of others’ relationship disputes and fenceline fights with the neighbors.

    Fortunately, the law is quite clear:

    District of Columbia Law 23- 582(b) reads as follows:

    (b) A private person may arrest another –

    (1) who he has probable cause to believe is committing in his presence –

    (A) a felony, or

    (B) an offense enumerated in section 23-581 (a)(2); or

    (2) in aid of a law enforcement officer or special policeman, or other person authorized by law to make an arrest.

    (c) Any person making an arrest pursuant to this section shall deliver the person arrested to a law enforcement officer without unreasonable delay. (July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 630, Pub. L. 91-358, Title II, § 210(a); 1973 Ed., § 23-582; Apr. 30, 1988, D.C. Law 7-104, § 7(e), 35 DCR 147.)


    As Section 23-581 (a) (2) decribes circumstances when a police officer may arrest someone without a warrant, this doesn’t apply to a private citizen. Thus, the only circumstances under which an individual may detain another is when they are personally witness to a felony.

    Without any evidence to identify the detainee, the person making the arrest is likely to face charges of kidnapping, assault and battery, and civil rights violations. And those are just the criminal consequences. Civil lawsuits against department stores, police departments, and even cult deprogrammers for false imprisonment are legendary.

  • you say tomato and I say tomahto. I’ve seen these kinds of things go down with street crime and I think that many of you are way off base, but I’m not going to try to convince anyone anymore.

  • As said earlier, IF the cashier had personally witnessed a criminal act, then they have justification to detain someone.

    And I say possession of a stolen dog is valid evidence of a criminal act. How can people suggest it’s not?

  • Neener–Because the dog didn’t have a tattoo on its forehead saying “I’m stolen”? All the cashier knew was that the customer had what appeared to be the same breed of dog that was allegedly stolen. A vizsla isn’t that common but it isn’t entirely rare either.

    What next? If you see a person with an ipod you make a citizens arrest because someone told you theirs was stolen? Let the police sort these things out.

    The last thing our community needs is police officers wasting manhours trying to sort out alleged criminals from the citizens who detain them, and prosecutors spending valuable time reviewing cases and trying to sort out the well-meaning folk from the true criminals. As said above, unless you really know what you are doing, making a citizens arrest is liable to put you in more hot water than the person you stop.

  • Ahoy !

    Felicitations are in order.

    Some good tips, circumstance, fate, and some very good police work done by the one MPD Investigator assigned to the case resulted in one crime being solved and in one very joyous family reunion.

    Wonderful story.

    Case solved.

    Felicitations are in order.

    That’s all.

    Regarding some of the silly, infantile comments in the 49 above since I broke the story to our Prince early yesterday morning my only comment is:

    Get real.

    Reformed Somali Pirate “Tantum Eruditi Sunt Liberi”

  • Neener–Because the dog didn’t have a tattoo on its forehead saying “I’m stolen”? All the cashier knew was that the customer had what appeared to be the same breed of dog that was allegedly stolen.

    the dog had a shaved patch of hair that matched Molly and was, in fact, a stolen dog.

    “The last thing our community needs is police officers wasting manhours trying to sort out alleged criminals from the citizens who detain them,”

    No, the FIRST THING our community needs is some freaking balls to confront criminals and not be such a bunch of whining, simpering wimps. When I stood strong against the drug dealers on my block I never had one single negative consequence. People need to stop acting like the criminals have all these rights here and we have to walk on eggshells around them. They’re criminals, they do not have rights to commit these crimes!

    I followed criminals around my block more than a dozen times and I don’t care for one second if someone thinks I was stalking them- they were arrested and charged with crimes and out of the 6 people I targeted, four of whom are in jail or out and awaiting trial because I’m not stupid and I’m not wrong. I’m right. Therefore the photos I gave to the police allowed the police, not to use the photos as illegal evidence, but allowed the officers to position themselves in the right place to observe and detain the criminals.

    argh, why do people secretly want these creeps to win. Don’t be a loser. F*cking get their asses in jail.

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