Amanda Anderson never expected to see her two dogs again after discovering them missing from her Harlem back yard May 16.
Amanda Anderson and her daughter Hannah, 2, play with their pit bull, Arial, and their bulldog, Pepper, in their back yard in Harlem. The dogs had been stolen but were recovered the next day.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Honestly, what I was thinking is that they dug out or slipped through a hole or crack or something and got loose and somebody saw them and said, 'There's two dogs,' and took them," Anderson said.
With the help of her neighbor, Marvin George, Anderson had both dogs back in her home within 24 hours of their disappearance.
Anderson said both dogs - Arial, an adult blue brindle pit bull, and Pepper, her nearly 8-month-old English bulldog - have unusual markings and colorings.
"I was just shocked at first whenever I realized they were gone," said Anderson, 23.
It turned out that the dogs had not slipped through the fence alone. Authorities say someone tore a hole in her backyard fence and coaxed the two playful and friendly dogs through. Anderson's worst fear was that someone had stolen Arial to use her in illegal dog-fighting circles.
"That was exactly what I thought," Anderson said. "Just like I was telling people, (Arial) won't fight. It goes to show how much aggression she has just to let some stranger come take her up out of my back yard.''
"Anderson said that George told her that he saw the dogs before he left for work on the day of their disappearance. According to a police report, George told investigators that he believed his son was at the house that afternoon and had taken the dogs.
As Anderson scoured her Campbell's Crossing neighborhood talking to neighbors in an effort to find the dogs, police say George began his own investigation and discovered that the dogs had been taken to a North Augusta home.
"The neighbor suspected who did it and was able to return one dog and then lead authorities to the other dog," Columbia County sheriff's Investigator Frank Dodson said. "The neighbor was able to help (Anderson) get her two dogs back, and consequently law enforcement were able to identify a suspect."
Dodson said the suspect in the theft is Derek Keith George, 26, of the 1900 block of Telfair Street in Augusta, who is wanted on a probation violation in Richmond County and as of Tuesday was still being sought for questioning on a felony theft by taking charge in Columbia County in connection with the theft of Anderson's dogs.
Anderson said it was the elder George who located the North Augusta home where one of her dogs, Arial, still was. The other dog, Pepper, had been turned over to the Richmond County Animal Control facility and was returned to Anderson after the office staff verified Anderson as the owner.
Neither animal was injured, and Anderson said she prefers not to think about what might have happened.
"I was just relieved to get them back and to get them back so quickly," Anderson said. "I'm very grateful that I did. I already told the investigators I want to press charges. I just think it's so wrong to do that to people, especially when your intentions are to hurt them.''
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