4 competitive show dogs are stolen in Bellflower
A champion Akita headed for one of the country’s biggest invitational dog shows and three other competition dogs vanished Tuesday when the van they spent the night in was stolen from a Bellflower parking lot.
Trace, a 3-year-old male Akita slated to compete in the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Long Beach this weekend, along with a 10-month-old female Akita named Didi and two Pembroke Welsh Corgis -- Bunny, 2, and Peter, 1-- were discovered to be missing at 6:30 a.m. at the Motel 6 lot.
“These dogs are our family,” said David Peek, who owns Didi. His girlfriend, Kristina Rickard, is one of the owners of Trace. “They are not just pets. You pretty much stole our kids, so just give them back.”
Authorities were searching for the stolen cargo van, a white, 2006 Chevy Express with the California license plate 8D50252. The heavy-coated dogs had spent the cool night in the van -- a standard procedure, said Peek, who travels the show circuit with dogs.
Keeping the dogs indoors “would be kind of like a person wearing a coat in Arizona -- even with the air conditioning on,” Peek said.
It’s common for owners of competition dogs to travel to shows in RVs with their animals and stay on the site of the show. At the AKC show this weekend, many competitors -- and their people -- will stay in RVs parked on site at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Peek and Rickard -- who live in Redding, Calif. -- often stay in motels and park their van right outside their motel window, running an extension cord to a fan they put in the van to cool the dogs even more.
“We weren’t able to do that at this site,” Peek said. “But it was so cool last night it didn’t matter.”
Peek said they cracked the windows about an inch for the dogs and locked the doors. The Akita, Trace, is registered in the weekend competition as a Grand Champion under the official name “Dream Hi's I Got My Game On.”
The other Akita, Didi, and the two Corgis -- whose owners are in Japan -- were expected to compete in other local competitions scheduled in the days before the AKC/Eukanuba show. Southern California is just one stop in a nearly month long tour, Peek said.
“They all travel a lot,” said Tamara Houser, who is accompanying the owners and the dogs. “They have more miles under their little toes that a lot of people do.”
The group also has a Boxer puppy, a Parson Russell terrier, and a Brittany with them. Those dogs slept in the motel Monday night.
Peek declined to put a price on Trace -- "he’s priceless" -- or the other dogs. He also said he doubted the dogs were targeted by a thief.
“Not a lot of people realize what the dogs are worth,” Peek said. “I think someone just saw a cargo van with people’s stuff in it.”
Peek said they will offer a reward to anyone who can lead them to the dogs.
Anyone with information is asked to call Los Angeles County sheriff’s Det. Ron Vande Vegte at the Lakewood sheriff’s station at (562) 925-0124. They can also call David Peek at (530) 917-6846 or Tamara Houser at (661) 860-3147.
-- Carla Hall
Photos: Clockwise are Trace, Peter, Bunny and Didi. Credit: Tamara Houser