Maggie was stolen from a California owner in 2015.
In the end, the bulldog was the big giveaway.
Maggie, a pet reported stolen from California in 2015, played an integral role in Sarasota Police arresting a man and woman in October on burglary and other charges. And the canine’s role in the arrest helped her get back home to her West Coast family, through the generosity of some donors at the police department.
Tracie Eileen Defree, 52, of Patterson, Calif., and Michael Paine, 48, of Sarasota, face multiple charges, 14 in all, connected to a string of reported break-ins on Lido Key between Oct. 18-20.
Police investigating the crimes canvassed the area with a description of two suspects and the bulldog seen in their company.
On Oct. 20, a resident called police to report seeing such a trio. Officers ultimately found Defree and Paine in a bathroom in a home on Grant Drive and arrested them.
Animal Services took custody of the dog, and discovered through her ID chip she had been stolen from a man in California in 2015.
Bulldogs typically can’t fly in airplanes because of respiratory concerns, so arrangements were made for Maggie to travel overland through the services of a Texas-based pet-transportation system to return home.
Police here, through the efforts of Sgt. Eric Stafford, helped raise the $800 fee.
Following a two-week routine quarantine at a Sarasota animal hospital, Maggie began her journey home on Nov. 13. She arrived with her California family on Nov. 18.
Defree was charged with five counts of burglary, two counts of occupied burglary and one count each of trespassing, attempted burglary, dealing in stolen property, defrauding a second-hand dealer and grand theft.
Paine was charged with a count each of trespassing and burglary.
Both have been released on bond.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Kim Laster with the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6827.