Crime & Courts

Puppy stolen in Eagle River parking lot returned to owner — with verification, police say

Anchorage police said Saturday evening that a 3-month-old puppy named Dexter has finally been found safe after being reported stolen Friday and then mistakenly reported as found Saturday morning.

Police said that around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, police dispatch received a call from Anchorage Animal Care and Control that Dexter may have been dropped off. Officers arrived and interviewed the man who dropped him off, who police said is not a suspect, and then at last released Dexter to his owner.

The reunion followed a false alarm from just hours earlier. Police said in a release that just before 9 a.m. Saturday, Anchorage Animal Care and Control told police dispatch that Dexter, the male puppy reported stolen from a locked car in the Eagle River Walmart parking lot Friday, may have been dropped off. The puppy returned to Dexter's owner, however, turned out to be female.

Anchorage police spokesman MJ Thim said he did not have details about how the Saturday morning dog mix-up happened.

"What I can tell you is we got a call from Animal Care and Control this morning saying they believed Dexter was found," he said.

Saturday evening, when police said the real Dexter was found, officers called the victim to return to Animal Care and Control to complete the verification process, police said.

"Due to the mistaken identity situation from earlier this morning, AACC and APD took additional steps to verify this was in fact Dexter," police said in a statement.


Thim said the police department issued an alert about Dexter being stolen because of how unusual the crime was and because police thought the public could help.

"The circumstances surrounding this particular crime, very rare," he said. "A random smash-and-grab where a dog is stolen like this."

Police said Friday that the suspect had smashed the driver's side window of the victim's Toyota Scion, "grabbed the puppy and fled in a small SUV" while the victim was in the Walmart store for less than 10 minutes. Police described the thief as a white woman wearing a light-colored jacket and white hat. She drove a small, dark green SUV with a tire on the back, according to police. Police are still searching for her, and the investigation continues.

Police received the report at about 12:30 a.m. Friday and sent out an alert about the stolen puppy later Friday morning.

"They smashed the window, stole the puppy and took off," Thim said. "This is an unusual situation. It's like taking someone's kid."

Brianna Trybalski said she is the person who dropped the female dog off at animal control on Elmore Road on Friday night, along with three other puppies. She said she'd had the dogs since they were born and she wasn't able to care for so many. Then, she said, she got a call from a police officer Saturday morning asking questions about the dog.

"I sent all these photos of (the dog) since birth," to show it was not the dog police were searching for, she said.

The female puppy has since been returned to Anchorage Animal Care and Control, police said. The search for Dexter and the suspect is ongoing, and police are working with Walmart to get a screengrab of the suspect from surveillance video.

"We don't know why she stole the puppy; however, if she wanted a dog that bad, there are plenty of dogs up for adoption at Animal Care and Control and she should have done that instead," Thim said.

Anyone with information about the puppy investigation or relevant surveillance video is asked to call dispatchers at 907-786-8900. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 907-561-STOP or

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.

Tegan Hanlon

Tegan Hanlon was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News between 2013 and 2019. She now reports for Alaska Public Media.