Michelle Carnline said Landon, her 6-month-old Great Dane, has always been affectionate.
But that changed when someone stole the chocolate-colored pup last month, she told the Austin American-Statesman. She could see it in his reaction after the unknown suspect first brought Landon back home.
“He always wants hugs, he always wants cuddles,” she said. “But I went to go put his leash on him and he was cowering with his tail between his legs.”
The Texas woman told the Houston Chronicle that she first suspected Landon had just gotten out of the yard when he went missing on Feb. 25. But they called police after seeing muddy footprints, and cops determined that someone likely stole Landon after arriving at their house and surveying the scene.
Carnline took to the “Austin Lost and Found Pets” Facebook page on Feb. 26, pleading for help to find her family’s “baby.”
“He is reported stolen with the sheriffs office and we are pressing theft charges!!!” she wrote. “So please if you took our baby just bring him back. No questions asked. Just put him in the gate. Please.”
Someone did bring back her beloved dog that following day, she told the Chronicle, but the joy of his return was soured by his injuries. She said Landon had cuts on his bleeding paws that nearly reached his bones, a big wound on his right leg and burn marks on his heels, paws and rear. The injuries led a local vet to suggest that someone dragged the dog when allegedly stealing him.
Landon wasn’t the only thing the suspect left behind — there was a note on the car that belonged to Carnline’s husband, according to the Statesman. It had a request for the family.
“Hi there,” the note began. “My son took your dog. I apologize he finally told us where he got him from, we will punish him accordingly. I do apologize again. Please don’t get the police involved, he’s just a kid.”
That didn’t stop Carnline. Writing on a GoFundMe page to help cover Landon’s vet bills, she said the police are testing the note for fingerprints.
Landon had complications after undergoing the first surgery for the gash on his leg, she wrote on the GoFundMe page, and needed antibiotics, pain medication and additional treatment. So far her family has raised just over $1,230 of the $1,500 goal to help cover the medical expenses for their injured pup.
Carnline said she isn’t going to back down until she gets justice for Landon.
“We have an investigator with Bastrop county sheriffs building a case to press theft and animal cruelty charges on you,” she wrote on her Facebook post. “We won't stop til you are found and you will pay for what you did to an innocent animal!”
She might not have pursed the criminal charges, Carnline told the Chronicle, if Landon returned uninjured or just a bit dehydrated. But after seeing her pup in such an injured state, she said “there’s no way we couldn’t get the police involved.”
“We need this person to be off the streets,” she said. “If he's really a kid, what's to say he can't do that to somebody else?"