There are dog lovers, and then there’s Alyssa Sanderford – the Texan woman who spent 35 minutes chasing down the man who stole a stranger’s beloved pet.
The 34-year-old was driving past a Dallas bus stop when she pony-tailed man clutching the leash of a dog that looked suspiciously like a Lab/Chesapeake cross she’d seen in a missing pet Facebook post the night before.
Sanderford parked her car and walked past the pup to take a closer look. As soon as she spotted the distinctive orange collar she’d seen in the photographs, she leapt into action.
“I probably didn’t do the smartest thing. I just walked up to him and said, ‘That dog’s stolen. You need to give it back’,” Sanderford told The Dallas Observer.
“I tried to reach for it. He got pretty angry. I grabbed the leash, and he jerked it out of my hands.”
Wiley Ream was stolen while his owner was in the supermarket. Image: Facebook.
The man bolted and Sanderford gave chase. She kicked off her cumbersome thongs, and clutching them in her hands she pursued him through the neighbourhood.
Wiley's captor turned out to be as light footed as he was light fingered. Two men joined the foot chase, but gave up. Another couple driving by saw her sprinting down the road and gave her a lift for a short while, before they too abandoned the effort.
But Sanderford - who has been training for a triathlon - persevered, calling police as she ran. Thankfully, one of the men who had earlier run alongside her returned with his SUV, sped ahead and ultimately caught up to the thief, wrestling Wiley from his grip.
Some 35 minutes after it all began, Sanderford finally had Wiley's leash in hand.
Alyssa Sanderford, a dog's best friend. Image: Facebook.
Police arrived a short time later, but no charges were laid against the man, largely due to lack of evidence that he'd intentionally stolen the pet.
Wiley's owner, Angela Ream, is simply satisfied that she has her best friend back. Largely thanks to Sanderford.
“I don’t even know this girl, and she risked so much to bring our dog home to us. It’s an unbelievable story," Ream told The Dallas Observer.
"It sounds a little silly, but it restores your faith in humanity. For the one bad guy who had her, there were so many people who reached out and cared."