Barefoot Triathlete Runs Down Thief Who Stole Dog

Texan Alyssa Sanderford was just driving along…as many of us do. The night before, however, she’d seen a flyer on Facebook about a missing Lab/Chesapeake mix named Wiley. Wile had been taken from outside a Trader Joe’s where his owner had tied and left him for just a minute, and Sanderford’s heart broke for that owner, knowing it could have easily been her.

Sanderford said that she owns a jeep and has dogs herself. Sometimes, she might run into a store with the dogs outside waiting, and that someone would steal them was a thought that crossed her mind, but one she didn’t really believe would happen. The flyer on Facebook reinforced that it could happen, and she was sad for that owner.

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So the next day, as she was driving, imagine her surprise when she saw the dog from the flyer! At least, she thought she did. She recognized the bright orange collar, and pulled her car over to investigate. After she took a harder look, she was sure she’d found Wiley and told the man, who appeared to be in his twenties, that Wiley was stolen and needed to be returned.

She recognizes that going up to him wasn’t necessarily the smartest thing to do, but she knew it was Wiley, and when the man told her he wasn’t sure what she was talking about, she reiterated that the dog was stolen from Trader Joe’s the day before and she intended to reunite her with her owner.

When Sanderford reached for the leash, the man got angry and jerked it back out of her hands. He then took off running, with her in hot pursuit. Sanderford is a triathlete, and actually took her flip-flops off so she’d have a better chance of chasing him down!

Two Goodwill employees saw her chasing and joined in, but when they had to stop, Sanderford hopped in the SUV of a couple who also was watching the chase and offered her a ride to help. The man’s continued running exhausted the couple’s efforts, though, and Sanderford continued to chase him, barefoot, by herself.

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About 30 minutes later, one of the original Goodwill employee chasers returned in his car and stopped the man, who finally just gave up and gave Sanderford the leash. She was able to contact Wiley’s owner, Angela Ream, as well as police, who were unable to arrest the man since no one had actually seen him steal Wiley from Trader Joe’s.

When Wiley saw Ream, she ran up to her Mama and licked her like she’d missed her terribly. Ream felt the same, and couldn’t believe that a stranger would risk so much just to bring her dog back to her. Ream said it restored her faith in humanity, and was so thankful for those who tried to help her and Wiley.

Sanderford didn’t think anything of making the effort to get Wiley home, as she hoped that anyone would do that for hers. Her bigger concern was telling her boyfriend that she’d gone through all that and risked her own life for a stranger’s dog. When she told him what happened, she was sure to let him know right up front that she was okay and the story had a happy ending.

Indeed! Thank you, Alyssa, for reminding us that an act of kindness for the family member of another goes a long, long way!


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