Family celebrates tearful reunion with missing show dogs; stolen van found

Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 1:47 PM PST
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VANCOUVER Wash. (KPTV) - A Seattle woman had a tearful reunion with her four show dogs that were returned Sunday morning after the van they were in had been stolen.

Vandra Huber said the man who returned the dogs is an angel.

“We were just praying to the Scottie dogs and all the gods,” Huber said. “We all cried, we just cried. My husband cried back in Seattle.”

SEE ALSO: 2 teens arrested after carjacking, police chase from Vancouver to Clackamas Co.

Portland Police said the van was stolen with the four dogs inside on Saturday morning from the Oxford Suites parking lot in North Portland. Officers said the van was left running briefly when someone jumped in and drove away.

“You can replace a van, but you can’t replace the love of your life,” Huber said.

Huber said the good Samaritan who only wanted to be identified as “J” spotted the dogs and drove them back to the hotel where she was staying.

“Had called and said he found the van,” Huber said. “It was in a RV park in the Vancouver, Washington area.”

She said “J” did this out of the goodness of his heart.

“He didn’t ask for a reward, so there are doggy angels out there who care,” Huber said.

Unfortunately, she said the van was heavily damaged.

“It’s been towed,” Huber said. “Flat tires. The consoles ripped up.”

SEE ALSO: Legendary Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely dies at 93

But said what really mattered to her were the dogs, now all safely back in loving arms.

“Sally’s a little chunk monkey,” Huber said, introducing the FOX 12 crew to the dogs. “This is baby Sally.”

“This is Mason. He’s actually four and a half,” said Huber’s friend Ed. “And this is Boo. She’s actually two and a half.”

The fourth puppy has already headed home. And Huber said they have plans to honor “J” in a big way.

“We’re going to name the next dog after “J” who found the puppies,” Huber said.

She said she did take the dogs to the dog show on Sunday morning, but just to say thank you to the community. She said bringing dogs to the Rose City Classic has been an annual tradition for decades.

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ORIGINAL: Four show dogs are missing after the van that was carrying them was stolen in Portland on Saturday morning.

Vandra Huber has been making her way from the Seattle area to the The Rose City Dog Show for the last 20 years. But Saturday morning turned into a nightmare when her dogs were taken.

They were in the north Portland Oxford Suites parking lot.

Huber’s friend Ed loaded the show dogs into their kennels and into the van. Two of them were puppies just 6 months old. The other two were beloved family dogs.

SEE ALSO: Legendary Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely dies at 93

Ed started the van, then poked his head back into the hotel to let Huber know it was time to go. When they came back out, there was no van and no dogs.

Huber said that moment was panic.

“Just total panic,” she said.

Police arrived shortly before 8 a.m.

The dogs were just here to finishe the championship, Huber said.

“They sleep on the bed,” she said. “They’re my kids. I couldn’t have human children, so these puppies are my children. Most anybody can say that if I was going to die and come back as a dog, I’d want to do it at Vandra’s house.”

Huber has been breeding show dogs for more than 40 years and said she has never experienced something like this.

SEE ALSO: 2 teens arrested after carjacking, police chase from Vancouver to Clackamas Co.

The van is a 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris cargo van, dark blue in color, with no plates and a temporary tag in the rear window. There was a handicap placard and a Rose City Dog Show parking pass in the front window. The van has a metal divider between the passenger compartment and the cargo area. It has tinted windows on the sides and rear hatch. In the back are red kennels.

She said a tracking system has been activated on the van.

“It doesn’t stand out like a bright red one,” Huber said. “I used to have a red one, but not now. I don’t even have a blue one.”

Since tracking’s been activated, Huber said the vehicle has yet to move and ping a trackable signal. That concerns her, because “if someone parks this van and decides it’s going to be their new home instead of a tent, they don’t move it and we can’t find it.”

Each passing hour has become more and more difficult, as the thought of her dogs in a cold van consumes her.

“By now, they’re going to be really hungry because they would’ve eaten and been at the show,” Huber said.

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She said she wished there was some sort of widespread phone alert for furry family members too, “because for many of us they mean as much as human children. For those of us who can’t have kids, it means the same.”

If the Rose City Dog Show comes to an end, and the dogs are yet to be found, she said she’s staying put, “and that’s hard for a breeder to say, because we have baby puppies at home. My husband’s in charge of those. I’m not leaving. I have to find them.”

Huber said friends who have gone through a similar situation have told her they’ll help her come up with a $10,000 reward for the safe return of her animals.

The public is asked to keep an eye out for the van:

  • If you see it, call 911, although keep in mind that there are likely similar vans that are unrelated. Please only call if there is reason to believe that it is the stolen van.
  • The van has NO PLATES and a Washington DMV temporary tag displayed in the rear window: E0768146.
  • Additionally, inside the vehicle, the van contained Washington license plates CFU1337.
  • The license plate frames had light blue dealer placards that say “SOUNDFORD.COM in Renton.”
  • The dogs are three Scottish terriers and one Cairn terrier. All are about 22 pounds. Two are black/brown, one is black, and one is brown.

If you have information that is not immediately time sensitive, e-mail crimetips@police.portlandoregon.gov and refer to case number 23-19222.