A woman who co-owns a doggy day care in Portland, Ore., had quite a scare Tuesday, but thanks to the efforts of locals, a thief who tried to steal her pooch-filled vehicle wasn't successful. Sunni Liston—whose company, Coopers Dogpatch, picks up dogs from their owners in the city and takes them to her rural property in Clackamas County for the day—tells the Oregonian she'd exited the driver's seat Tuesday evening to retrieve one of the dogs from the back of her van, when a man jumped in and started the engine. As the van with 12 dogs inside (including her own Corgi mix, Howard), as well as her purse and cellphone, started to roll away, Liston, 60, tells the Washington Post, "I was pretty panicked." She says she "screamed" and ran after the vehicle. "I was pounding the wall of the van and he ran over my foot" before speeding away for good, she tells KOIN.
A bystander lent Liston a phone so she could call 911, and police and news stations quickly jumped into the fray. Word also spread on social media. But it was two of Liston's workers who proved key to getting the dogs back. The women were able to track Liston's iPhone online via its GPS and find where the van had ended up: in a nearby apartment building parking lot. Liston called a friend who lived near the lot, and the friend headed over, blocked the van in, and alerted police. The thief took off with Liston's purse and phone, but the dogs were all safe inside the van, some of them blissfully and obliviously snoozing. Liston says police are looking for surveillance footage that may offer clues. She adds that she'll be installing GPS trackers in all of her vans. "If it wasn't for the community, we might have lost them all," Liston tells the Oregonian. (Read more dognapping stories.)