Barefoot Woman Spends 30 Minutes Chasing A Man Who Stole A Stranger's Dog

November 22, 2016

A woman spent 30 minutes chasing a dog thief barefoot through the streets of Dallas and successfully returned the dog to his rightful owners, whom she has never met.

Meet Alyssa Sanderford.

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Alyssa Sanderford

Sanderford had seen an appeal the night before on Facebook. Wiley, a 6-year-old Chocolate Lab had disappeared the day before from the bench outside the Trader Joe's store where dog owners are encouraged by the store to tie their pets while shopping.

Wiley's owners, Angela Ream and her husband, Sterling Ream, both 32, were overwhelmed with grief. They spent 24 hours walking door-to-door to houses and businesses, posting fliers and putting up notices on every social media website they could think of. They live five blocks from Trader Joe's.

Sanderford doesn't know the Reams, but they have a mutual friend who had shared Wiley's missing dog poster on Facebook. The picture of Wiley in her bright orange collar pierced her heart.

"I have a Jeep," she told the Dallas Observer, "and I have two dogs myself. I'll run into Whole Foods just for a second and run out. The thought has crossed my mind that they might be taken but never really, so seeing that on Facebook made me feel really sad."

The next morning Sanderford had just re-shared the item herself and was driving down Mockingbird Lane when she spotted a dog that looked a whole lot like Wiley wearing a bright orange collar. Standing by a bus stop holding the dog's leash was a man neatly dressed in blue jeans with his black hair in a ponytail, probably in his late 20s, about 5-foot-9, 160 to 170 pounds, she guesses.

Sanderford pulled into a parking lot and got out of the Jeep. "I grabbed my keys and my phone. I left my purse and everything in the car."

First she walked by the man and looked carefully at the dog to make sure it was Wiley. Assured that it was, she confronted him.

What ensued was a half-hour foot chase up and down Mockingbird, through the residential neighborhoods behind Mockingbird and back to the commercial strip twice.

At one point two men working at a Goodwill drop-off site joined the chase, but they stopped chasing after awhile and warned Sanderford that the man was "talking crazy" and seemed dangerous. She thanked them but kept up the chase herself.

At another point, a couple in an SUV saw her running after the man, pulled up and told her to jump in. She did. Later they left the chase as well, but Sanderford persevered, again on foot and barefoot.

As she ran, Sanderford called the police. Then she saw that one of the Goodwill guys had returned to the chase, this time in his own SUV. He sped ahead of Sanderford. By the time she caught up with him, he had somehow wrested Wiley from the man. Sanderford then found Angela Ream's number and called her. Ream came racing to the scene.

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Wiley with Angela Ream

"I don't even know this girl, and she risked so much to bring our dog home to us. It's an unbelievable story. It sounds a little silly, but it restores your faith in humanity. For the one bad guy who had her, there were so many people who reached out and cared."

And even for that guy, Ream finds sympathy.

"My dad was like, 'Are you going to press charges?' I said, 'No!' To be honest, I am kind of praying for that guy. I don't know his motives. If he's just lonely and wanted a companion, I hope he finds one, his own. If he really needed money that badly, you have to be really desperate to steal a dog."

Sanderford says that her boyfriend — along with everybody else she knows — told her how crazy it was for her even to confront the man with the dog, let alone chase him for half an hour, barefoot, while jumping in cars with strangers.

She says she hopes she will find a more cautious approach if the situation ever arises again.

Source: Dallas Observer

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