FREMONT (CBS SF) — A pet transport van that was stolen Monday morning with two dozen rescue dogs inside has been recovered by police in Oakland, but the animals may not be released to their owners for days.

The driver had stopped at an Extended Stay America hotel on South Fremont Boulevard in Fremont and was staying there.

Fremont Police say the driver of the white 2016 Ford Transit 350 van turned in for the night, but left the van running with the dogs inside, the air conditioning on and the keys in the ignition.

When the driver came to check on the dogs around 5:30 a.m. Monday morning, the van was missing. She immediately called police.

The company, D&J’s Pet Transport, also posted on Facebook that the van had “about 25 dogs in it.”

The van’s driver was apparently delivering rescued dogs from the Fresno area to new owners when she stopped for the night in Fremont.

She declined to comment.

At around 11:30 a.m., police in Oakland reported that the stolen van had been recovered with 25-30 dogs inside after officers spotted the vehicle and made a traffic stop.

Authorities later confirmed that officers were able to track the vehicle using its GPS. It was stopped at 81st Avenue and Olive Street in the Arroyo Viejo neighborhood of Oakland.

Police arrested the driver and detained another person who was attempting to buy one of the dogs. Their names were not immediately released.

The dogs were all taken to Oakland Animal Services to check on their wellness, along with looking for any microchips that they might have. All dogs are in good health and were not harmed, police said.

The stress of the ordeal seemed to show on the dog’s faces.

“They’re really scared. But their conditions, they appear to be fine. All the dogs are alive,” said Oakland Police Lt. Brian Hubbard.

Authorities worked with Oakland Animal Control and Fremont police to determine that all of the dogs were accounted for, eventually coming up with a final count of 24 dogs. Police said it was unknown whether any dogs were missing or sold because some paperwork from the van was missing.

“For those in the community who might have purchased a dog, especially from a gentleman who was driving a white van, we please ask that you contact the Oakland Police Department or the Fremont Police Department to make sure that it’s not attached to this case or if it is, to return it to its rightful owner,” Lt. Hubbard said.

Police said they are holding the dogs as evidence and they may not see their owners for days, according to Dustin Rodrigues, who owns one of the dogs.

Rodrigues, who lives in Washington state, was supposed to meet the Italian Mastiff that he and his wife rescued from Kentucky on Monday. Instead, he received word the rescue dog, named Ava, was inside the van that was stolen.

Rescue dog Ava was supposed to meet her new owners before the transport van was stolen (Photo: Dustin Rodrigues)

Rodrigues said the only reason he found out she was still alive was when he saw Ava in a news story after the stolen van was discovered. The driver of the van of D&J’s Pet Transport is paid to pick up dogs from breeders or rescue groups and drop them off to their owners. According to Rodrigues, they were told the driver would sleep inside the van.

“We were very excited to get her home and to give her the opportunity to finally have a forever family,” said Rodrigues. “This morning, there was a lot of anger and frustration.”

”There’s still a lot of questions.”

He is now planning to take time off work to drive to California, and hope for the best that police release Ava sooner than later.

“We appreciate them getting her back, and at least if we don’t have her right now, having the opportunity to get her as soon as possible,” said Rodrigues.

A woman who answered D&J’s Pet Transport company phone number said she didn’t have time to talk. The company’s Facebook page, which received dozens of negative posts after the theft, disappeared Monday evening.

KPIX 5’s Len Ramirez and Maria Medina contributed to this report.

Comments