It’s been a rough few months for Godiva, a one-year-old lab/pit bull mix at the Humane Rescue Alliance. Her six five-week-old puppies—who are too young to be without their mother—have been kidnapped and remain missing.
The “desperately concerned” HRA is offering $7,500 to anyone with information that leads to the location or safe return of any of the pups. According to the rescue, puppies need to be with their mothers and siblings until they are eight to 10 weeks old.
“The public’s help is needed urgently,” wrote HRA in a press release. “The puppies were kidnapped from HRA, separated from their mother at the extremely vulnerable age of 3 ½ weeks. … They are now about 5 weeks old, and if they are not reunited with their mother and siblings immediately, they will be at risk.”
The rescue first found Godiva in mid-July. Though visibly pregnant at the time, she was severely malnourished—already raising concern about the long-term health of her puppies even after birth, says Chris Schindler, vice president of field services at the Humane Rescue Alliance.
Despite her rough pregnancy, Godiva gave birth to her litter of seven in early August. She was then transferred with the puppies to a foster home “where they could spend their critical growth period together in a more ideal environment than the shelter,” said HRA in the press release.
But things took a turn for the worse. A few weeks later, HRA received a call about a dog tied to a pole in Northeast DC—it was Godiva, and she was without her puppies. This past weekend, humane law enforcement officers executed a search and seizure warrant at the house (also in Northeast DC) where the puppies were suspected to be—but they only found one of the seven dogs.
“We’ve never had a situation like this occur before,” Schindler says. “We’ve had this foster program for more than a decade and foster thousands of animals per year into homes. That’s really what helps our life saving work, and we’ve never come across this situation. This is incredibly unique.”
Schindler says it’s quite possible that the dogs were sold or given to unsuspecting buyers or adopters. He adds that anyone who suspects they may have unknowingly bought or received one of the puppies will not be held liable and should feel comfortable contacting the rescue immediately.
“I think some people who unknowingly received these puppies may not realize that they have additional needs,” Schindler says. “We’re not looking to penalize anyone that may unknowingly have them; we just want to ensure their health… We would also work with them to make sure that once the puppies were old enough, we could reunite them.”
People with any tips can submit them anonymously at 202-723-5730.
As for Godiva? Schindler says she’s doing “really well” and was excited to be reunited with her one recovered puppy.
“She’s such a good mom and so we hope to be able to reunite her with all her puppies, so they can be with her through this developmental stage,” said Schindler. “It’s really heartbreaking for our staff too, so we hope that if people unknowingly received one of these puppies or purchased them, that they’d be willing to contact us: 1) for their health and 2) for peace of mind for our entire team too.”