Michelle Baker’s Boxer named Jasper is her whole world. He’s a loyal family companion and an award-winning show dog. The two Iowa residents traveled to Minnesota for a weekend to attend the Land O’ Lakes Kennel Club Dog Show.
Jasper was eager to start the day as he sat patiently in his crate in the car. But Baker wanted to run inside the hotel to refill her coffee cup before driving off. She briefly left the car running outside the hotel, but when she saw a man exit the lobby, she had a bad feeling. When she ran back outside, the vehicle was gone, with Jasper still inside.
A Trail of Clues
Baker spent her whole time in Minnesota searching for Jasper with no luck. Eventually, she had to return home without him. But many community members helped her look and donated reward money. Baker said the thief could keep her purse and car as long as her furry friend came home.
South St. Paul Police shared surveillance footage of the man who stole the car. Tara and James Wintz from St. Paul recognized the man in the images, and they knew where he lived. So, they used their detective skills to track down the stranger’s dog. The Wintz family has two dogs of their own, so they know how important the bond between a human and their four-legged companion can be.
The stolen van was sitting in the suspect’s driveway. With Baker’s permission, the couple smashed the window and found that Jasper was still in his crate. He had likely been sitting in the freezing car for several days. Tara immediately got on the phone with Baker to share the good news.
“I just screamed to her, ‘He’s alive!’ And she lost it, and I lost it, and I’m bawling, and she’s crying. And it was just like so crazy,” Tara said.
Cold and Hungry, But Safe!
Tara and James brought Jasper home with them while Baker arranged a way to get the pup. Jasper got visibly excited when his mom talked to him through video chat. Later that night, Baker’s friend picked up the dog and brought him home.
“It was amazing the amount of humanity I’ve experienced…the kindness and the support,” Baker said. “I have so much more faith in people after this experience.”
Baker said she will give the Wintz family the $6,500 reward she raised through GoFundMe. She also says that they will always be like family to her after the lengths they reached to save Jasper.
The South St. Paul Police Department recovered the van after the dog was rescued. They have yet to announce if the man has been arrested for this theft. He left a dog trapped in an ice-cold vehicle for about 60 hours, so it’s a miracle that Jasper is doing so well. This story is an important reminder to avoid leaving your dog in the car unattended.