Saanich man reunited with his stolen dogs but fears they suffered abuse

A Saanich man is “over the moon” his two dogs are back with him, but fears they might have suffered some form of abuse.

“They haven’t been themselves at all,” said John Heslop Monday, less than 48 hours after his dogs Arrow, a seven-year-old female German Shepherd, and Biggs, a 14-year-old wolf-coyote breed, were stolen from him. “Whatever happened to them must have been pretty nasty,” he said.

Arrow and Biggs were taken Saturday evening when Heslop walked the two dogs from his McKenzie Street home to the Save-On-Foods grocery store on Shelbourne Street. Standing outside the store, a man took a keen interest in the dogs, Heslop noticed.

“Something in the pit of my stomach didn’t like him,” said Heslop.

The man continued to show interest in the dogs after Heslop tied them up and went inside the store to pick up groceries. Uneasy about the situation, Heslop snuck a peek but found the dogs seemingly comfortable with the man.

Heslop continued to shop for a few more minutes, only to found them missing when he left the store.

A woman approaching the store immediately recognized Heslop’s loss and told him that she had seen the man with his two dogs running away from the store, tripping along the way, at one stage.

Heslop was devastated. “It’s like thinking your children have been kidnapped and you will never seen them again,” he said.

Anxious hours ensued.

A group named Find Lost and Escaped Dogs (FLED) Vancouver Island circulated descriptions of the two animals online and late Saturday night Heslop received a call from a man in the Broadmead area, who had found a stray dog whose description appeared to match one of the dogs. Heslop met the man Sunday morning and the dog in his temporary care turned out to be Biggs.

The dog Biggs acted frightened following his return and Heslop had to spend several minutes calming it down.

Several hours later that same day, University of Victoria staff found Arrow tied up near the MacLaurin Building. She too appeared sluggish.

Following a joyful reunion, the two animals returned to their sombre state, sleeping for hours.

Heslop said Monday afternoon he hopes his animals will recover in the coming days, but will take them to a vet if their behaviour continues.

Heslop remains puzzled when anyone would steal two dogs.

“It makes no damn sense, but he did,” said Heslop.

Police said Saturday that they were looking for a Caucasian male, around 25 years old, about 5-foot-8, with a thin build, dark hair, and no facial hair.

According to Heslop, a Save-On-Foods security camera recorded the man untying the dogs and University of Victoria security staff Saturday night checked a man while walking on campus with two dogs. They were unaware at the time that Heslop had reported his dogs stolen.