LAPD searches for puppy thief caught on camera at pet rescue

- "I feel defeated", Johnny Gearhart, the founder of the Birdhouse Doghouse Rescue Foundation tells me, tears in his eyes. "How can someone do this? We save dogs from bad situations to find them good homes and then the puppy is stolen?!"

Johnny is referring to a cruel crime that happened at his North Hollywood rescue on April 24th.

It was 1:30 in the afternoon when Gearhart says the woman, seen below with a very distinctive tattoo on her upper left arm, walked into his shop on Lankershim. At first, he says, she pretended to look at the rescues up for adoption but suddenly she made her move. Opening a door clearly marked "employees only" and ripping a puppy off its mother's chest as it nursed.

The volunteer on duty at the time tried to stop her but says the suspect knocked her to the ground.

"She line-backed her", says Keith Kirkwood, a former professional fighter who also volunteers at the rescue. "It was an assault."

But the volunteer managed to take the suspect's picture with her cell phone. Moments before she says the suspect grabbed that phone and slammed it on the floor, breaking it and then knocking her down one more time, taking off with the puppy.

"We take these crimes very seriously", says LAPD Lieutenant Bob Toledo of the North Hollywood station. "This was a robbery and she can go to jail for that."

Police believe the woman's distinctive tattoo, it appears to be a flag possibly of Puerto Rico, will lead them to her and hopefully to the puppy, who needs to be returned to its distraught mother.

"She spends her day looking for her missing puppy", says Gearhart. "It's heartbreaking to watch."

When she's not looking for her stolen puppy, she keeps one paw firmly on her little girl, the only puppy she has left. In addition to the stolen boy, two other pups died at birth.

"What kind of a person steals a puppy who's nursing on her mama?", Gearhart says. "If she does this to a poor innocent animal, what does she do to people?"

If you recognize the woman below please call the LAPD's North Hollywood station at 818-754-8410. As always you can remain anonymous.

While the rescue would like to see this woman prosecuted for her crimes, what they really want is the puppy back so they can return it to its mother and eventually find that little boy a good home.

Please share and let's help them do that.

And for more information on the Birdhouse Doghouse Rescue Foundation and their rescues, visit: https://www.facebook.com/operationlovemarylea/.

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