German Shepherd reunited with owners, officials search for Lincoln woman they say stole him

htrenda@charlotteobserver.comMarch 7, 2014 

After becoming a social media sensation, the Lincolnton German Shepherd named Boh has been reunited with his owners, while Lincoln County sheriff’s officials continue to look for the woman they say stole him.

For the past week, social media users from around the world have sent messages of encouragement to Boh’s owners, Brad Beal and Tina Kennedy, after they posted that he had been stolen Feb. 28.

Beal and Kennedy live near the Forest Lawn Cemetery on N.C. 150 where Boh became a regular fixture over the past year and half, providing comfort to mourners and company to employees, Beal said.

“He would interact with the people who would come up to the graveyard. I guess he could feel the sorrow they had. He’s a special guy,” Beal said.

When cemetery workers told officials they saw Boh being put into a vehicle by a woman on Feb. 28, Beal and Kennedy got online and asked people to keep an eye out for him. As locals shared their posts, “it snowballed,” Beal said, noting he got messages and texts of encouragement from England, Canada and Australia.

“We had no idea it had gone viral ’til (a local news station) called,” he said. “We saw that as an opportunity to reach a countless number of people, because we didn’t know where our dog was.”

Boh was found Thursday night wandering around Birkdale Village in Huntersville, officials said. The two girls who found Boh at the shopping center didn’t know his story, but still took him to their apartment and began checking lost dog reports, Beal said.

Within three minutes of Boh’s photo being posted on a Facebook page for lost German Shepherds in North Carolina around 8 p.m., Beal and Kennedy were “bombarded” with people letting them know Boh had been found.

They drove almost immediately to reunite with their missing companion, he said. “When I called his name, his face lit up (and) he tackled me. It was beautiful. He was a happy boy.”

Though Boh won’t be heading back to the cemetery on his own anymore, Beal said, any of his regular friends are welcome to come visit.

“Please walk over into the yard, sit with Boh, cry with Boh. We’ll wait in the wings,” Beal said. “I think he gives people a little ray of hope. I don’t know what he does for people. That’s between Boh and the people he’s with.”

Beal said they also plan to remain active on the Facebook page created to help find Boh, www.facebook.com/bringbohhome, with photos and updates.

“A lot of people want to keep up with Boh,” he said. “He’s a beautiful guy with a beautiful spirit.” They also hope Boh’s Facebook page can double as a way for those with lost pets to interact with each other, as well as provide links to rescue groups across the country.

“Don’t ever give up,” Beal said. “We faced insurmountable odds and we won. … The power of social media and the hearts of people brought him home. They weren’t going to quit ’til we found him.”

Officials have since obtained warrants for the arrest of Dana Hartness, 36, of Denver for felony larceny of a dog and possession of stolen goods. As of Friday afternoon, she had not been arrested, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Investigators say they know Hartness took Boh to the East Lincoln Animal Hospital, Lt. Tim Johnson said.

Authorities say she was advised to call animal services after telling staff she couldn’t take care of the dog. “We know she took the dog home,” Johnson said. “She had the dog there where she lives, then he got (away) the next day.”

Though Hartness has yet to be arrested, North Carolina court documents show she has been charged with larceny twice in the past. In 2008, Hartness was found guilty of attempted larceny in Gaston County, and in 2011 she was found guilty of larceny in Lincoln County, court records show.

Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda

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