PORTLAND – On Saturday afternoon, the Belzer family was all set to adopt their new 3-month-old puppy from the Oregon Humane Society. They had an adorable Pomeranian and Chihuahua mix named John picked out and ready to take home for Christmas.
Mike Belzer, his wife and three daughters had finished filling out the paper work and had even paid the fee, said David Lytle with the Oregon Humane Society.
"We brought the kids in. We fell in love with him," Belzer said.
The family even brought in their 10-year-old retriever named Benson for a meet-and-greet with John.
"They got along well," Belzer said. "It was all systems go. The girls were excited."
But when a worker went to fetch the puppy from the kennel area, he was gone, Lytle said.
The family was heartbroken.
Lytle said someone sneaked in through a back door and nabbed the dog while staff was in the other room working out the details for the adoption.
"The girls went from the highs of having a puppy for Christmas to the lows of the personal sorrow," Belzer said. "It was a quiet ride home with a lot of tears."
“We’re hoping that we can find the puppy and reunite him with the family who wanted to adopt him,” said OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon in a press release to KGW. “It’s heartbreaking to see something like this happen. The puppy was ready to go to his new home.”
The Oregon Humane Society posted the story on its Facebook page and comments have been pouring in. They also created a dedicated tip line, in order to take calls about the missing puppy. That number is: 503-802-6888.
One commenter writes, “What is with people stealing during a season that's supposed to be for giving! Ugh! Makes me furious!”
“Poor baby, I hope they find him and get him to his proper forever home!” writes another commenter.
The humane society has identified a person of interest in the case and described him as a white man in his early 40s, 5-foot-6, with a thin build and light brown hair with a mustache.
Officials are reviewing security video and have refunded the family's money.
Lytle says that a $500 reward is set to be offered for the arrest of the thief. Anyone with information about the dog was asked to call the OHS tipline at 503-285-7722 or the dedicated tipline at 503-802-6888.
"After a good night's sleep, we really just concerned for John. We hope he is with a good family for Christmas," Belzer said.