After four months, stolen dog returned to shelter near Glenwood Springs

Carla Jean Whitley


Regardless of where you adopt, Colorado Animal Rescue can microchip your pet. Many veterinarian offices offer the service, as well. Microchips are about the size of a piece of rice and are inserted between an animal’s shoulder blades. Chips are coded with identification numbers, and owners can register their contact information and alternate contacts into a national database.

CARE charges $30 for the service. To schedule an appointment, call 947-9173. Learn more about the practice—and about adoptable pets like Zeb—at

It had been nearly four months since he left Colorado Animal Rescue, but the shelter’s staff hadn’t forgotten Zeb. A couple took the dog for a walk in early March — a common practice at the shelter — but they never returned.

At first staff wondered if the couple took Zeb on a hike without saying so. They didn’t return that evening, but staff held onto hope that Zeb would somehow find his way back.

“We left Zeb’s kennel set up with a new bed for him to chew up and plenty of toys,” said CARE Behavior and Training Manager Tracey Yajko.

The staff’s hope finally bore fruit Wednesday night.

On July 5 — nearly four months after Zeb’s disappearance — CARE received a call from The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas. Zeb had been dropped at the shelter as a stray, and when employees scanned him they found a microchip registered to CARE.

“We’re fortunate enough that we do that, and this wonderful shelter reached out,” Yajko said.

The Animal Foundation has a transfer program and was able to meet CARE employee Eric Welker in Beaver, Utah, to return Zeb.

Six staff members gathered for the after-hours reunion. Before they released Zeb from his kennel, his exuberance was clear. “Can you hear that tail?” one asked as the dog’s tail repeatedly beat against the walls surrounding him.

CARE also accepted several Animal Foundation animals to help with that area’s overpopulation. The staff welcomed them with enthusiasm, as well. But Zeb was the evening’s star.

He captured hearts during his first six weeks at the shelter.

“He was exuberant and playful and silly. He liked to chew up beds when he was bored, so he’s kind of a lot of dog,” Yajko said. “Those dogs, sometimes they stay here a little bit longer. They’re always kind of difficult to adopt out.”

“When he first got here, he was super unruly, no manners,” Welker said. “He was just a big goofball.”

But CARE can work with that. After a month, Zeb was able to walk on a loose leash. His “sit stay” time was up to 2 minutes.

CARE initially contacted law enforcement for help identifying the couple, whose whereabouts remain unknown, and shared Zeb’s disappearance on social media in search of tips. They received many calls with contradictory leads, but none panned out. As the months passed, Yajko said the staff’s concern grew.

“He’s this high-energy pitty that loved everyone who he came in contact with, and we get connected to the dogs,” she said. “We were really worried for him and what kind of place he could show up in.”

When Zeb leaped out of the CARE van Wednesday, those gathered exclaimed over his condition. The dog was neither too thin nor overweight, and he gladly accepted a toy monkey from the staff.

“He’s the same dude he was before,” Welker said.

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