Stolen dog returned after car theft from Twin Lakes Fred Meyer

A trip for groceries turned into a terrifying ordeal earlier this month when Carolyn Schuler’s Shih Tzu dog, Gizmo, was stolen along with her car from the Twin Lakes Fred Meyer parking lot.

Schuler, a Twin Lakes resident, had gone in to the Fred Meyer around the afternoon of May 4 to get dinner for Gizmo, her 11-year-old furry companion.

“He doesn’t eat regular dog food,” said Schuler, who cooks for Gizmo. “He’s very picky. … People don’t realize how much you love our animals. Mine’s so spoiled. He had his own car seat and everything.”

She hadn’t been gone for even 15 minutes, Schuler said, before returning to the parking lot to find her car — and Gizmo — gone.

“I didn’t care about the car,” she said. “I cared about the dog.”

Whoever stole the car most likely didn’t intend to take Gizmo too, but merely didn’t notice him upon taking the vehicle, Schuler said. Gizmo isn’t aggressive or yappy, and tends to lays down in the back seat of the car.

Whether they’d intended to or not, the car thief had dognapped Gizmo.

“Everyone said when he was gone, ‘Well what color sweater did he have on?’ Because he’s got his own winter coat, sweaters and everything,” Schuler said.

Schuler’s community came out to search for Gizmo and put up missing posters that weekend. She figures that might be part of why, thankfully, they got Gizmo back.

“He (the thief) really wouldn’t have been able to take (Gizmo) out anywhere,” Schuler said. “Even when I went to the doctor’s (office) the following week, they said ‘Well, how about the dog?’ Not ‘Are you OK?’, it’s ‘Is the dog OK?’”

The family got the call May 8 from a Tacoma PetSmart: Someone had brought Gizmo in, and an employee called the number on his one remaining tag — all the other tags had been taken off, Schuler said.

“I cried the whole way there, because I was so happy,” Schuler said. “He was standing in a shopping cart when I got there, and the minute I picked him up, he put his head on my shoulder and didn’t take it off until we got home.”

Apparently, Gizmo had been discovered tied up in the area, Schuler said, and the stranger had then brought him from there to PetSmart.

A little over a week later, on May 17, Schuler heard from the Federal Way Police Department that Fife police had found her car in a warehouse, on a backstreet near Highway 509.

There was no damage to the outside, but the car was left in poor shape. Schuler plans to get a new vehicle with the insurance money.

“It looked like they had a party inside of it,” she said. “It was stained, stinky, destroyed on the inside. I wouldn’t even get in it and drive it.”

Federal Way PD Commander Kurt Schwan said the department doesn’t have a suspect at this point for the car theft.

The entire ordeal was scary, but Gizmo is at least “a little street smart now,” Schuler said.

“He’s got some street cred,” her daughter Dara Mandeville added.

And it’s taught Schuler not to leave Gizmo alone in the car again, no matter how quick a shopping trip she plans to make.

“I don’t go far without him now.”