What will you do if you see a footage of someone breaking into your home? The Haskett family had to go through this nightmare when they saw a video of two people breaking into their home and then making off with their nine-year-old long-haired German shepherd, Partner.
In their quest to look for their beloved pet, the Hasketts went on social media to ask for tips. The search eventually led them to the alleged dog napper, whom they confronted in a dramatic encounter recorded on their cellphone.
The story eventually blew up online as thousands wondered how the bizarre tale would unfold.
The Likelihood of Dog Napping
In an interview, the woman admitted to taking the dog but refused to admit breaking into the Haskett family home. Although her name wasn’t released in initial reports, the Greater Sudbury Police charged a 50-year-old woman with breaking and entering, theft, and possession of property obtained by crime and mischief, in relation to the incident. She was released but not without promise to appear in court at a later date.
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The woman, later revealed to be Heather Zeffer, said that she called the Sudbury SPCA and Rainbow District Animal Control on numerous occasions, expressing her concerns and desire to help Partner. She said that the dog was usually seen tied up on a short leash in a feces-riddled yard. She also believed that Partner has medical issues. Unfortunately, SPCA and the Animal Control center do not handle abuse calls.
“I do something where I take a dog, try to get it healed and fixed, and I’m the bad person,” Zeffer said regarding her intention to help abused dog.
The woman took the dog to Baxter Animal Clinic for treatment. She told press later on that they found the dog to have ear mites and mange. However, when asked regarding Partner’s condition, veterinary technician Ashley Kinach said that Partner had neither of ear mites nor mange and was actually found to be in good health. Kinach also added that Partner did not appear to have been abused nor neglected.
What she did find out was that Partner had a bacterial ear infection, which the Hasketts were already treating. He also seemed to have the beginnings of a skin infection on his belly, but it was small and was not considered worrisome. Kinach also mentioned that when Zeffer took Partner in, she said that she’d gotten the dog from a man who rescued it from a “negligent situation.”
Besides taking Partner to the vet, Zeffer also took him to Puppy Love Pet Salon and Spa to get groomed. Maggie Pan, the owner, said that she was told the dog was rescued from a “hoarding” situation and was said to have mange. Because of the mange, Pan shaved off most of Partner’s fur, as it was the only way to access his skin for treatment. However, after shaving the dog, it became clear that he did not have a skin condition as Zeffer claimed.
Pan said that even though she believed that Zeffer’s intentions were good, German shepherds are not supposed to be tied up on short leashes. She also believed that she did not have the right to take someone’s dog without permission, even if the person’s desire is to help abused dog.
The investigation continued on as police were also looking for the man who was also allegedly involved in breaking and entering the Haskett home in Zeffer’s attempt to help abused dog.
Finding Partner Missing
When Neil Haskett, his wife, Tabatha, and their four children arrived at their Riverside Drive home shortly after six in the evening, they immediately noticed that Partner was not there to greet them.
This itself was strange because the family was sure that they locked their dog in the house just a few hours earlier. That Partner was inside the home already did not line up with Zeffer’s statement that led her to want to help abused dog. Luckily, the Haskett family installed cameras outside their home for security reasons and found a woman attempting to gain entry to the house. She eventually received some help from a passerby. A few moments later, she was seen walking away with Partner on a leash, presumably believing that she broke in the house to help abused dog.
The family sprang into action and started posting photos of Partner on their Facebook pages. They also went on to ask people if they’d seen him around. The social media attention that followed led them to dozens of tips from people who said they saw Partner being walked around in the neighborhood.
Thanks to the tips, the family was able to search the area in their van; and a few days later, noticed two people a few streets away walking a dog that looked a lot like their own German shepherd. They pulled up next to the couple, and sure enough, it was Partner.
Neil said that their dog was shaved and almost completely bald, except for his head and tail. The Hasketts then phoned the police and confronted the man and woman, who said that they got the dog from a city rescue group called Pet Save, which helps abused dog back to recovery and helps them look for their forever homes.
The Greater Sudbury Police officers then brought the dog to the family’s vet, where his identity was confirmed by Dr. Dan Ransberry of Martindale Animal Clinic.
After a tiring few days, the Hasketts were able to bring Partner home to a very emotional homecoming, as stated by Neil.