Stolen puppy reunited with Camas family




Picture of "John," the puppy returned to the Belzer family of Camas on Christmas Day. The puppy was stolen from the Oregon Humane Society shelter on Dec. 22.

The Belzer family of Camas got their Christmas wish when John the puppy was returned Tuesday after being stolen from the Oregon Humane Society shelter.

The pooch was taken Saturday, minutes after the family had completed the adoption paperwork and were preparing to take John home, said David Lytle, a spokesman for the shelter. He was found two days later at a Gresham, Ore., home. An investigation continues.

“The Belzer family had been there for several hours and really loved (the puppy),” Lytle said. “Then we went back to get him and he was not where he was supposed to be.”

The story started Saturday when Mike and Kathy Belzer visited the Humane Society on Columbia Boulevard in Portland to see if the 3-month-old Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix would make a good Christmas present. Their three girls — twins Madison and Lauren, 16, and Perri, 13 — were left at home.

“Lauren had seen John on the Oregon Humane Society website” at, Mike said. “We went to see John, and we certainly fell in love with him.”

So back to the Humane Society the family went on Saturday.

“They said he was gone and I was shocked,” Lauren said of that Saturday episode.

But on Christmas Eve, the tale changed again.

“When we got the phone call last night, Lauren screamed at the top of her lungs that this is the best Christmas ever,” Mike said.

The family picked up John from the shelter at 2 p.m. Tuesday. After retrieving the puppy, Kathy Belzer wrote on her Facebook page, “Just got him!!!! Heading home now!!!! Will be on news tonight. … Have a Merry Christmas!!”

John was part of a litter of four puppies at the shelter. Each one was named after a member of The Beatles.

All four puppies have been adopted, Lytle said.

Will the name John stick?

“We just thought we’d keep the name after all he’s been through, and he actually seems to respond to it,” Lauren said. Asked if she listens to The Beatles, Lauren said, “No.”

“He’s tiny, but they said he was the bully (of the litter),” Lauren said. “He doesn’t let our big dog (Benson, a Chesapeake Bay retriever) rough him around.”

Humane Society officials said they got an anonymous tip on Christmas Eve alerting the police to the dog’s whereabouts. Police then retrieved the animal from a home in Gresham.

Two Oregon Humane Society staffers went with police to identify the dog at 7 p.m. Monday, Lytle said. No arrests have been made, he added.

“Yes Oregon, there is a Santa Claus,” OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon said on the shelter’s website. “This little pup was rescued on Christmas Eve and is back in the arms of his loving family today.”

Mike said he was grateful to reporters and social media in helping his family connect with John.

“The kids are excited. Things are good,” Mike said Tuesday evening. “It does make a good Christmas story.”