A family in Van Zandt County, southeast of Dallas, is celebrating after being reunited with two dogs they feared may be gone forever.
Two women, Cynthia Durham, of Van Zandt County, and Patricia Junk, of Jackson County, Wisconsin, are now under arrest for theft after police say the conspired to steal and sell the animals.
The blue heeler pups could sell for $300 each, at minimum.
Investigators believe the two suspects, who are meant to protect animals, were stealing them, sending them out of Texas, then selling them.
On Sunday, however, there was a happy reunion.
There were squeals of excitement as the Housden family reunited with their blue heeler pups, Davi and Pepper.
“Speechless. The whole family is just speechless. It brings tears to our eyes,” the owner of the dogs, Jeremy Housden, said.
The dogs were being watched by a sitter when they went missing while the family was on vacation last month.
Housden was desperate to get them back and started asking around to his neighbors.
The name Cynthia Durham, the president of the Van Zandt County Humane Society, was one that continued to come up.
He enlisted the help of Constable Jesse Ison, who questioned Durham.
The constable said Durham admitted that Davi and Pepper had been taken all the way to Wisconsin and were in the care of Patricia Junk, who also ran an animal rescue.
The dogs were listed as up for adoption on her Unchained K-9 Rescue and Rehab page.
“I'm still a little puzzled on exactly how that came about, and it seemed pretty organized to me,” Ison said.
Since then, the two women, supposed to be animal rescuers, have been charged with theft of property between $750 and $2,500.
Durham has been arrested.
Junk is wanted, and once arrested, will be extradited back to Texas.
Constable Ison made the long drive to Wisconsin to bring the dogs back.
“We look for days like this because they're not very often, and I'm sure I'll cherish this for a while just seeing the looks on the kids' faces,” Ison said.
“Those smiles and those licks are very, very gratifying,” Van Zandt County District Attorney Tonda Curry said.
“It brings the whole family back together again. I can't wait ‘til we open the door and we unclick their leashes and they're back on the couch,” Housden said.
Since this story has come out and these arrests have been made, the constable said law enforcement has been getting more calls about stolen pets in the area.
He said they will look into each one of those calls and see if they're related to these women.