“somebody tried to steal/walk off with our dog in front of compass coffee at 8th and T, NW. Warn folks please.”


“Dear PoPville,

After our walk this morning [Sunday], my dog, Dax, and I stopped by Compass Coffee on 8th Street. I tied her up to one of the steel beams attached to the building to the left of the door. I had finished ordering coffee when one of the staff members pointed and asked if that was my dog. A man had untied her and was walking away with her towards T St. I ran out of the door and caught up with them. We struggled for the leash for a second and I pushed him to the ground. He got up and ran off. Dax is a bit of a nervous dog so I stopped to check her out and try to calm her down. He had removed her gentle leader and had wrapped it around her neck. Other than that and being scared, she was fine. I walked back into Compass and grabbed my coffee, talked with a few people about what happened, and then went home. It was a bit of a crazy morning, but, luckily, it all ended okay.”

134 Comment

  • I’m so sorry that this happened to you! However, I do hope that this serves as a PSA to dissuade pet owners from tying up their dogs outside while they run an errand. Dognapping is a thing.

  • Don’t tie up your dog unattended. Don’t leave your keys in your unlocked car while you run a quick errand. Don’t leave your purse on the table while you go to the restroom. #commonsense

    • BuffySue

      with respect and relief to the dog owner, I agree with Anon – don’t leave your dog unattended.

    • Or we could focus on how people shouldn’t be stealing dogs…

      • Per usual, yes, we can focus on that. But I’m pretty sure the people who steal dogs won’t have a change of heart by reading a post on a blog. Not leaving a dog unattended, however, IS common sense. We live in a city and we should all know better than this.

      • Of course they shouldn’t. Criminals shouldn’t do any of the illegal things that they do, that doesn’t mean you should make it easy for them. i.e. locking the door before leaving the house.

      • if you are a dog owner, which is easier:

        a) controlling the behavior of every single person who walks down a street so that they do not steal your unattended dog, hurt the dog, try to pet the dog and get bitten/have an allergic reaction and sue you, etc.

        b) controlling your own behavior and not leaving your dog unattended

        ideally, we would live in a world where everyone followed every rule all the time. that would be lovely. but since we live in the actual world, and most dog owners don’t want their pet stolen, it makes sense for them to behave in a way that reduces risks.

    • Victim-blamer!!!!! I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to walk through this world paying no mind to anything and not suffer any negative consequences. I suppose OP deserved to have their coffee stolen too when they left it sitting in the store?

    • HaileUnlikely

      Common sense does not exist. Asserting that something is common sense has all the merit of asserting that something is a unicorn.
      Tying up one’s dog outside of a business is illegal in DC. I am not blaming OP for having somebody try to kidnap their dog, but tying up a dog like that is illegal. You don’t deserve to have your dog kidnapped, but you do deserve a ticket.

      • +1

        It’s illegal for good reason. Just don’t do it, period.

      • considering the outrage at the pet owners from the Brookland pint post when a child allegedly got bitten while the dog was leashed and observed, I’m surprised more people haven’t made a “think of the children” argument here.

        it is illegal to leave your dog unattended because it could hurt someone. and it is risky to leave your dog unattended because someone could steal it.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I have indeed had a tied up dog lunge at me when I’ve been out running and have accidentally startled one.

  • Thank you for the URL, Prince. I am cringing already.

  • I have a dog and fully realize how hard it is to get things done when most establishments won’t allow dogs, but yeah, have to agree that this is a lesson. If you love your dog, it’s not worth the risk.

    Note that Chinatown Coffee a couple of blocks away allows you to bring your dog in. Or at least, they don’t stop people who do.

    • NH Ave Hiker

      or just don’t bring your dog when you know that you have errands to run. That’s what I do.

      • Errands? OP was getting a coffee at the end of walking their dog. This was not someone tying their dog out front of the grocery store and shopping for 20 minutes, this is a cup of coffee! Jesus, the person literally sent this as a heads up to folks and you can cue the POP-comintern to turn this into a huge issue. Don’t steal peoples dogs is a fairly easy one right? And props to the OP for giving a warning that some scumbag is out there in Shaw potentially trying to steal your pet. IO come to this blog for neighborhood news, I have to be more disciplined and stop reading the comments.

        • NH Ave Hiker

          how hard is it to just do without the coffee then? Not worth the risk, IMO.

        • You might just have to make the extraordinarily difficult choice not to get the coffee right then. Coffee or dog. For this dog owner, it’s a clear and easy choice.

        • Agreed. She wasnt at Trader Joes (who has a specific dog area outside to tie up your dog, btw) shopping for 20 mins with dog out of sight. She was literally 7 feet from where the dog was tied up with floor to ceiling windows. Personally I’m tired of everyone, not gonna call it victim blaming, but being so black and white about everything. Dont leave anything in your car, ok? But what about the issue where our bags were getting stolen from soccer fields (as in next to the field) so i left my gym bag in my car, 30 feet away, in a school parking lot with cameras and my window was STILL smashed and my bag stolen? I made a calculated decision that turned out to be wrong! Just because these jerk thieves are the norm in DC doesn’t mean that we should become desensitized to it and just accept it as the status quo. Thank you OP for reminding all of us to be a little more careful and thoughtful, and congrats to all the popville commentators for never having made a small error in judgment!

    • It’s usually health codes, not establishment preference.

  • That’s scary and I”m glad you got him back!! But also, why would you ever tie your dog up outside unattended, especially in this super hot weather?? Somewhat realted- I would love it if there was a coffee place that had a walk up window for this exact situation, whenever I’m walking my dog near Philz in Navy Yard I’m wishing I could get an iced coffee.

    • “I would love it if there was a coffee place that had a walk up window for this exact situation”

      What a great idea! Fast-food places don’t allow walk-ups due to “security concerns”, but I always thought that was strange. I agree, I would love to see a walk-up window for many services.

      • Its not gourmet coffee; but the Dunkin Donuts on RIA and NJ Ave has a walk-up window.

        • And I believe Dolcezza at 14th and P NW had one until it was broken into.

          • Does McDonald’s ever use the walk up window by the bus stop? I’ve never seen anyone use it but I would love to!

          • Oh, didn’t know about that. That,s annoying.

          • west_egg

            @FridayGirl, I used to patronize McDonald’s via that window back when a Big Mac & fries would follow a night of drinking to excess. Street View suggests that it was preserved in the renovation (complete with a cute little awning) so this suggests that they do use it at least sometimes!

          • justinbc

            I used to see lines there on Friday / Saturday night, so most definitely. If you don’t mind someone possibly peeing on / near you while you order.

          • Hahahaha Justinbc…. I might take my chances :]

  • Of course, it is awful that people would try to steal dogs, and anyone who tries that is a terrible person. That being said, it is simply not safe in the Shaw/U Street area to tie up a dog and leave it unattended for any period of time. It’s not like this is the first time such a dog theft has been publicized. Fortunately for the owner, the dog was retrieved before the thief could get away and that there was a happy ending here.

  • It is insane to leave a dog outside. I am dumbfounded by the dogs outside of Trader Joe’s. What are those people thinking. How easy would it be for someone to just disconnect the leash and walk away. There are unstable and mean people in the world. Your dog could just walk into the street. Even if you can see your dog form inside a coffee shop, it only takes a second for someone to do something bad to your dog. Is it really worth the risk? Your dog doesn’t have a choice about where they are; you are responsible for keeping them safe. Would you leave a baby in a stroller outside while you grab your latte?

  • So people don’t have to learn the hard way, the District should require all new residents to attend an orientation class that includes lessons about not leaving your dog tied up outside a shop, not leaving any personal possessions AT ALL visible inside your parked car, keeping your doors and windows locked, how to lock up your bike and how you can expect it to eventually get stolen or at least tampered with, stand to the right/walk to the left, etc.

    • Right because these 1st world problems are the primary concern of the DC gov. Maybe they should just focus on the people littering, robbing, and murdering people first… then DC can worry about people who cant lock a bike or take care of a dog.

      That being said, you people need to chill, its fine leaving a dog tied up as long as you are keeping a cautious eye on it.

      • It’s not fine. It’s irresponsible and stupid. Though I suppose you get what you deserve.

      • justinbc

        This person was a few feet away and still nearly lost the dog. If the person who stole it had been faster than her she likely would have. It’s never a good idea, regardless of how diligent you are.

  • Please please please, do not tie up dogs outside while you go into a shop. If you must enter a shop that does not allow dogs inside, then either leave your dog with a friend/family member, or leave your dog at home. I cannot stress this enough. Not even just people will take dogs, kids walking by also may be distracted or want to touch the dog, which may result in either the child or your dog getting hurt. Which will then be a bigger issue.

    • Also, sorry I’m not trying to guilt trip you and continue to point a finger at the OP, just please be aware for the future in addition to others who may read this.

  • Emmaleigh504


  • I Dont Get It

    What did that couple pay to get a dog back–$10,000? Is it possible someone sees a potential lucrative pay-out just sitting there unattended?

    • NH Ave Hiker

      or bait for dog-fighting.

      • I Dont Get It


      • Or for medical experimentation purposes. I had the horrific displeasure of finding out that there is a lab not far from where my parents live that apparently pays $50 per dog and $12 per cat brought in (in the Midwest, nowhere near here, but I’m sure there are others…)

        • You don’t need to look very far, GWU does research with dogs as subjects.

          • But do they pay for them from any random person with no questions asked?
            Not that I agree with it at all but I’d say those are pretty different situations, in the context of this post and the replies to it.

          • A lot of medical facilities in DC use animals in testing, research, and other things. I can’t speak for GWU and the alleged use of dogs (not sure why dogs? Pigs, yes, cats, yes, mice/rats, yes. But dogs? Evidence please.), but I do know that there are very strict regulations in place for the use of animals. Animals are not randomly purchased, they are bred specifically for their purpose and must be purchased from approved vendors only.

          • @Anonamom this is exactly the impression I was under. Apparently there are facilities out there that stay under the radar enough or just don’t abide by those regulations though. I doubt that places like GWU would, but they’re out there.

          • “Animals are not randomly purchased, they are bred specifically for their purpose and must be purchased from approved vendors only.” That might be the medical facilities’ own rules, but federal regulations do NOT have such provisions.
            Class A animal dealers deal only in animals that they breed and raise. Class B dealers, however, buy and sell animals they did not raise.
            It’s not clear to what extent Class B dealers purchase animals that might have been stolen by “bunchers.” See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laboratory_animal_sources#Bunching .

  • OP – can you give us more details, was this person black/white/latino? Did he look homeless? What breed of dog is Dax?

    Thank god you got your dog back, she could have been taken for sale or to be a bait dog. Awful stuff.

    • yes! let’s profile all people of a specific race who happen to be in Shaw because OP couldn’t figure out how to follow the law.

      And what does it mean to “look homeless”?

      If OP reported this to the police and there is surveillance footage, MPD will share it. you can join the 3D listserve and learn ALL about crime in the area.

      • W. Kamau Bell recently shared what is means to look homeless on This American Life. Birds & Bees episode.

      • Calm down smh. There could be a dog snatcher who has done this before in the neighborhood, and neighbors should be aware of who it is, that is all. Some dog fighting rings pay people money to steal animals.

        • Please be respectful. Just the fact alone that the first race you typed was black is not okay.

          • I agree. Really the only necessary comment was “Can we get a description of the thief so we can be on the lookout?”

          • Intentionally or not, the races were listed in order of biggest representation in DC, which sounds perfectly fine and logical. If Latino had been second the order would have been alphabetical as well.

      • justinbc

        How is it profiling to ask the race of someone who we supposedly know committed a crime? It’s not like you’re asking the person to guess who stole a package without footage, she was right next to the guy.

  • Did anyone else notice that after his/her dog was almost stolen, the dog was left unattended -again- so the owner could pick up the coffee? Look, we all make mistakes and try to cut corners but talk about lessons not learned.

  • +1 to everyone here. One thing I notice here is that people take their dogs everywhere and act like this is a normal thing. I take me dogs on dedicated walks. They don’t accompany me everywhere I go. Walking the dogs is for them to interact with me and get exercise. Maybe I’m wrong, but you don’t need to take your dog everywhere with you.

    • Some people like being with their dogs. It is very normally in a pedestrian city to want to be out with your children or dog while doing errands

    • NH Ave Hiker

      I only take my dog if it’s somewhere I know I can take her (i.e., Annie’s in Petworth)

      • There was a dog tied up last week in front of annies in petworth for a long time! I joked about stealing it because it was so cute! Didnt even occur to me that they could have taken the freakin dog into the store!

    • It is a normal thing. Sorry your dogs live such boring lives.

      • Yeah. Sorry. They are totally happy with their existentence. Not everywhere is meant for a dog, and not every situation is meant to have a dog in tow even if you like your dog and want it to be so. Or if you like using your dog as an accessory. Just because something happens a lot doesn’t make it appropriate.

  • Again? Maybe we need a PSA (again) on not leaving your pets (or any other valuable item) unattended.

  • Very sorry this happened to you – and it is scary. I sometimes take my dog to Compass on 7th st and go in to grab a coffee. But i do tie his leash very securely to the bench outside (multiple knots that run through the wood slats), so someone can’t come in and grab him quickly even if they tried – and i keep an eye on him while inside. There are always people looking to get dogs to use to breed or fight or sell, not to mention some of the crazy people wandering around – so you really have to be careful. I am so glad you did get her back.

    • Not to be a jerk, but have you ever considered that someone might be able to just cut his leash off or unhook it from his collar if they were specifically looking to steal a dog?

    • If I were in the dog-stealing business, I’d have an extra leash on hand, so that I could unclip your securely-tied leash and clip my own on. Takes a second or two.

    • Anon3, um, me thinks you’re leaving an obvious gap of “security” at the dog’s collar/leash clip as others have mentioned. If this person stole a dog from the same site, I hope perhaps you’ll think about leaving your pup at home for your coffee run. Don’t be a idiot, mmmkk?

      • It’s a very thick leather leash – would take a while to cut. it And he’s a big somewhat scary looking german shepherd – most people hesitate to come straight up to him unless assured he is friendly. But these are good pointers, so i do appreciate the comments.

    • That’s an awful lot of trust to place in this city.

  • Glad you were able to get your dog back without too much trouble. Hopefully people will read your story and not leave their dogs unattended outside in front of stores or even in their front yards. Someone’s dog was snatched out of their front yard near H street a month or so ago.

  • Would you leave your child unattended and tied to an outside post? No? Then don’t do it to your dog.

    • exactly! +100

    • You also don’t euthanize a child if they bite someone… so that analogy is little off. But I get (and agree with) your point for the most part. That said, if someone runs into a store for less than 5 minutes to grab a coffee or whatever I don’t see the problem – they just need to realize those 5 minutes might be enough for some weirdo to walk off with their dog. There will always be weirdos so it’s risk.

      • west_egg

        “if someone runs into a store for less than 5 minutes to grab a coffee or whatever I don’t see the problem”
        Aside from the fact that it’s (1) illegal and (2) stressful for the dog, anyway.

        • I think the stress on the dog depends on the dog and circumstances. If a dog can’t handle a simple 5 minutes away from the owner (and the circumstances don’t involve things like no shade in high temps for example) then there are definitely larger issues at play. There is neglect and there is coddling – and those are two very different things.

  • As a dog owner, I know it would be way more convenient to run your errands while getting in some daily exercise for your dog (I am definitely one of those people who will give all of my money to places that allow me to bring my dog along, so I really feel your pain here). But until someone invents a device that can both keep your dog from being snatched, never EVER leave your dog tied up unattended anywhere. I was standing outside with my dog not long ago, while my friend ran inside CVS, and was approached by a homeless woman. She said “you’re smart, not tying your dog up outside. There are guys offering money to folks and kids to snatch dogs tied up outside of places. Really terrible stuff because I think they fight them or hurt them”. I’ve never been able to tie my dog up anywhere, as he’s not great with other dogs, but hearing that just reinforced that I will never be leaving my dog tied up anywhere ever.

    • or team up with another dog-owning friend! One of you can run in to get two coffees and the other can watch the dogs.

      • This is a great suggestion.

      • Yes, fantastic suggestion! Make friends with other dog owners in your respective building/ neighborhood/ dog park – it has endless benefits (trading dog sitting services with my fellow dog-owners has saved me so much money over the years). I’ve even asked a stranger walking into the establishment, whether it be a coffee shop or convenience store, if they wouldn’t mind snagging me a bottle of water or a coffee and I give them cash, while I wait outside with my dog. Most people don’t mind if they’re already going in to buy something anyway.

        • +1. Love this. I know someone is going to say “What if the person ran away with your $3 for coffee?” but my answer to that would be better $3 and no coffee than a dog gone missing.

    • Can the terrible commentariat here shoot down this before I spend $50 on it? Will a foiled dog stealer just break my dog’s neck to take his carcass out of spite?

  • I’m so sorry to hear this and am very glad things ended up ok. that said, IT IS NEVER OK TO LEAVE YOUR DOG UNATTENDED. I work in dog rescue and regularly stand outside of my neighborhood grocery store watching over dogs whose owners have tied up outside. I hope the owners learned a very valuable lesson and other people learn from their mistakes.

  • The groupthink in Popville comments never ceases to amaze me, and usually the threads are fairly predictable. What I DON’T understand is how yesterday, the overwhelming majority of commenters offered their sympathies to Guillermo, the outdoor cat (RIP, buddy). Today, Dax’s mom/dad belongs in pet owner jail for leaving their dog outside. BOTH of which, as was established, are illegal. Sheesh. Give people a break. Dax’s parent is lucky to have them home. Let’s celebrate the fact that nothing worse happened.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      If it makes you feel any better a lot of folks were vicious in the Guillermo thread and I deleted those comments. People were also vicious in this thread and I deleted some of those comments. So not sure the groupthink applies as there was and always is a variety of opinions. Though for those that are interested I highly recommend Groupthink : Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes – 2nd edition by Irving Janis to learn more.

    • Average crime post = ~10-20 comments
      Average pet related post = ~50+ comments
      Everyone is a pet expert- just ask them!

      • In all fairness, a lot more people have pets than are victims to crimes.

        • Fair enough, but the righteous tone of most of the comments gets a little excessive. So many people ready to tell you how you should handle your dog/cat and what is/isn’t legal. If only people were so passionate about other issues…

          • Oh, I think we are (see RRRR a lot of days). But other issues aren’t writing to PoPville seeking validation, so it’s a little more difficult to pinpoint.

    • justinbc

      Yeah, crazy groupthinkers pointing out illegal behaviors shouldn’t occur! What’s next, people upset about being punched in the head? Won’t someone think of the punchers?!

  • Another thing that alarmed me about this post is that the dog owner knows that Dax is a nervous dog — and yet still left the dog outside unattended?! In addition to the threat of the dog being stolen, I’ve seen so many dogs clearly in distress from being left outside alone. It’s really sad. The cup of coffee can wait.

  • I’m not going to pile on to the OP over this. I generally agree that you do not leave your dog tied up outside, although I imagine it seems less risky to step 10 feet inside a glass door where you can see your dog and quickly get a cup of coffee than say going grocery shopping at Harris Teeter (where nearly every day I pass by someone has their dog tied up while they are inside shopping). It’s actually pretty damned bold to try to steal someone’s dog when you can be pretty certain that the owner can see you from the counter. That said, nothing in this city surprises me anymore.

    What disturbs me the most about the OP’s story is that they did not call the police and file a report. So now dognapper is out there waiting to find someone who didn’t get as lucky as OP here did.

    • “I imagine it seems less risky to step 10 feet inside a glass door where you can see your dog and quickly get a cup of coffee” — it’s one thing to be 10 feet away and looking outside every 10 seconds, but clearly the OP was not looking because he or she had to be alerted by the staff that someone was walking away with the dog.

      • Yes, thank you for repeating what was stated by the OP him/herself. I am aware. My point was simply the initial decision was probably based on those factors. I didn’t say it was the right one. Just less egregious than thinking your dog is safe when you’re in a grocery store for 40 minutes with no line of sight to the dog.

  • I haven’t read any of the comments and I know not to blame the victim and I know we have discussed this all before, but I can’t not say it…DON’T LEAVE YOUR DOG TIED UP ALONE ANYWHERE! ok, I just had to yell that out. thanks

  • I agree with the majority of the comments here that say “don’t leave your dog unattended” but doesn’t anyone else think this might be fake? They way this is written is so flippant and void of any emotion. I’m going with the theory someone just wanted to get in popville, hopefully.

    • A day late, but I agree that my first thought upon reading this is that it was trolling to get just this type of comment thread going. It’s the return back into the shop to retrieve the coffee that sealed the deal in my mind that the purpose of this post was just to push buttons. If that is indeed the case – mission accomplished – although it still serves as a PSA to anyone who didn’t realize this practice is illegal and dangerous.

  • Why anyone would ever leave their precious pup unattended outside while they go into a building is beyond me. I’m consistently shocked every time I see dogs tied up outside the grocery store near my house, shops in Dupont Circle, etc. It’s ridiculous. PEOPLE STEAL DOGS. Stop making it easy for them by leaving your dog unattended!

  • Local coffee spots should provide a walk-up ordering option so dog owners don’t have to leave their dog. Don’t even need a window, just place a barista with an iPad outside and run completed orders out? Clearly there’s demand.

  • Never leave dogs tied up outside for any length of time- it’s illegal and cruel. It could have been a lot worse. Personally ,I’ve called humane society when I see this ,which is way too often.

  • Related to this thread – those of you who have dog walkers, ask if they leave your dogs tied up outside a house while they collect other dogs for their walks. One of the dog walkers that comes to my building does this, and I didn’t think about it at first, but then hearing stories about dogs being stolen out of yards, and when the owners were standing not terribly far away, I would hope that dog walkers would be more conscientious in this city.

  • I don’t know why I read these comments. First, a dog is NOT a child, PLEASE do not compare the two. I have both. I am certain they are not the same. Second, don’t blame the OP. In fact, that same exact day, I took my dog and my child to that same exact Compass and took my child into Compass and tied up my dog outside. Based on this posting, I won’t be doing that anymore. And that is the point of this posting. To simply warn the rest of us. Thanks, OP, much appreciated, from a dog-owner and parent who sometimes tries to kill two birds with one stone.

  • Lyndsey

    Y’all commenters are rude as hell. I have a dog I would walk over flaming coals and broken glass to rescue from harm and I REGULARLY leash her up outside our coffee shop in the shade while I pop in to get coffee—where she’s usually joined by about 3-4 other dogs leashed up in the same spot by other professional, responsible adults with our fair share of common sense and understanding of the world around us. This is clearly an anomaly and a horrible thing that happened to OP but let’s not act like this happens every day in the city. Give her a fucking break and say “hey, sorry that happened to you – man, I’ll keep a closer eye on my dog – so glad everything ended well” and move on with your gotdamn day people.

  • I’m so sorry that happened and I’m SO glad you caught the guy. People be crazy.

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