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Working Dog Stolen, Surrendered 700 Miles From Home


A woman stole a dog named Hank and left him at an animal shelter 700 miles from his home, as reported by St. George News. According to the St. George Animal Shelter, the woman falsely stated that she found him locally. Upon discovering that the owner clearly missed the dog, the shelter facilitated his return home.

Cathy Freitas, Animal Services Officer Supervisor, revealed, “He was a working dog.” She further said that the 12-year-old McNab mix had been working on an Oregon ranch before being transported to St. George, Utah, by the woman who lied about where she discovered him.

Freitas explained that the dog was under good care, but this woman thought otherwise after finding him outdoors. In her words, “Rather than going to the authorities and saying, ‘I found a dog,’ she intentionally drove the dog away from that area because she didn’t want it to go back to the owner … Not every dog is going to be happy lying on your couch and eating snacks.”

“She can be charged with theft of property,” Freitas further stated. “She went onto his property and stole his dog and transported it across state lines. So that’s theft, and he could press charges if he wanted to.”

Owner drove 1,400 miles to recover stolen dog

The shelter shared Hank’s photo on social media, and it reached the right audience. A person in Idaho identified Hank, revealing the truth about what actually happened. 

Freitas said, “He’d been with (the family) for a long time … The owners didn’t know where to look for him because the people had driven so far away … When we were able to get a hold of the owners, they immediately got in their vehicle and drove 700 miles to pick him up — 1,400 miles round-trip — to pick up their dog.” Continuing, she added, “That shows you the dedication that they have to their dogs.”

Hank belongs to the fifth generation of McNab Dogs specifically bred to work on the family’s ranch.

Working dogs want to be outside with their herds

The shelter aims to educate people about the reality of working dogs‘ happiness. Freitas disclosed, “In this region, it’s common to encounter situations with Great Pyrenees mistaken as lost because they’re found away from their usual working environment. These dogs, however, are truly miserable when removed from their herds. They long to return to their duties and are distressed being away from their flock.”

Upon encountering a dog around livestock, it’s advisable to assume it’s a working dog and avoid approaching it. While these dogs are generally not aggressive towards humans, they may act defensively if they perceive a threat to their flocks.

Freitas recommended contacting Animal Services or the non-emergency dispatch should the dog seem neglected or injured. This allows local authorities to assess the situation, check on the dog, and, if needed, inform its owners. 

Moreover, Freitas emphasized that if Hank had suffered neglect or abuse, holding his owners accountable would be difficult as they fall outside the jurisdiction of the St. George Police Department. Failure to notify the local police could result in the family adopting another dog into a similar situation without accountability.

In addition, removing the dog could endanger the herd, leaving them more susceptible to predators — an action deemed illegal in Utah.


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