Dog returned to owner after shelter employee fabricated dognapping story, police say

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CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. – A bulldog was found safe after police said an animal shelter volunteer made up a story about the dog being stolen at gunpoint.

Police in south suburban Chicago Heights thought they were investigating the case of a dog stolen from a humane society worker at gun point, but the story took a dramatic twist.

South Suburban Humane Society employee Sarah Spokes had just adopted Polly the bulldog on Wednesday. She said she was really looking forward to bringing her home. But first, Polly needed to be spayed at a nearby clinic.

At 6:15 a.m. Wednesday morning, Polly was loaded up into a van with other pets to go to the clinic.

On the way there, the humane society employee driving the van said he saw a “dog in distress,” tied to a stop sign at 10th Street and Halsted Street. He said when he got out to help the dog, someone held him at gunpoint and demanded Polly.

South Suburban Humane Society CEO Emily Klehm had questions.

“We’re really struggling to understand if this specific dog was targeted, if we were targeted, we just don’t have the answers yet,” Klehm said.

They wanted to know what was the gunman’s motivation. The first clue that something was wrong with the volunteer’s story was that there was a hole in the story.

“He unfortunately couldn’t give a good description to me or to the police,” Klehm said.

The supposed victim soon became the suspect. He allegedly turned himself in to police and said he made up the story.

Klehm said the employee admitted to being in on the situation. He had made up the story and gave the dog to a friend.

“I’m really saddened that it was someone who was part of our family who would do something like this, and I’m very thankful that he had conscience enough to turn himself in and tell the real story,” Spokes said.

Within minutes, the police delivered Polly back to Spokes.

“It’s been a lot of emotions. It’s been sadness, it’s been shock, it’s been worrisome, and it’s been happy as well,” Spokes said.

The employee is no longer working at the animal shelter. Charges have not been filed.

The shelter posted an update to Polly's story on their Facebook page.