Missing dog, spotted near Mass and Cass, returned to owner after days-long search

The six-day search for a missing 8-year-old Chihuahua that was spotted in the city’s drug-addled Mass and Cass zone came to a sweet end with “lots of cuddles.”

The accused dog-napper who allegedly snatched “Alejandro,” a tan-and-white haired pooch, finally turned the pup over to its owner

The dog was taken from outside Whole Foods in Back Bay near Fenway last Saturday and was tracked down in the area of the Mary Ellen McCormack Housing Development in South Boston around 10:30 a.m. Thursday, according to police.

Alejandro’s owner, Shelly Vermani, reunited with her “companion, child and everything,” and police say the $2,500 gift she matched with a reward initiated by local dog lover — PR guru George Regan — enticed the suspect.

“It was so exciting,” Vermani told the Herald Thursday evening, near Regan’s office in the North End. It didn’t feel real at first.”

Sgt. Det. Donald Keenan had been canvassing and placing lost/stolen dog flyers around the Mary Ellen McCormack Housing Development late Thursday morning when he spotted a female, later identified as Emily Sardo, 24, of Boston, walking on Old Colony Avenue toward O’Callaghan Way, according to a police report.

Keenan thought Sardo “looked like the suspect who was seen on surveillance video walking away from the area of Whole Foods with the stolen dog on (Saturday),” the report states.

A BPD release highlights how the surrender went down:

“The Sergeant Detective said to the female, ‘Where is the dog?’ which she replied that she did not know. The Sergeant Detective advised the female of the reward for the dog, and the female responded she wanted the money first. The Sergeant Detective stated to the female that he needed to see the dog first.

“A few minutes later the suspect returned with the dog, Alejandro.”

Keenan later asked Sardo how she came in possession of Alejandro, and she responded that “she took the dog from Whole Foods and thought he may be hungry and she would take care of it,” and “she was homeless and off her medication at the time she took the dog,” the police report states.

Sardo, found to have a warrant out of Plymouth District Court for a previous arrest, was taken into custody on a larceny and will be arraigned in South Boston District Court. She will face additional charges, according to police.

An initial BPD last Saturday stated Alejandro was spotted walking with someone in the area of Mass and Cass, a homeless encampment riddled with heavy drug use.

The reward, Vermani said, will be going to a tipster whom she has been in contact with via Instagram since Sunday. The money would have gone to Sardo if she had just dropped the dog off, Vermani said.

A tip that Vermani said she received alerted her that “somebody suspicious” might have been seen walking a dog that looked similar to Alejandro in the area of Mary Ellen McCormack around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.

“She’s honestly been really incredible,” Vermani said of the tipster. “She went above to the point of mapping out the area, finding out exactly where she saw them, circling the map. She got really invested in this.”

Vermani believes Alejandro, her “resilient boy,” is in high spirits and doing. When she received him from the police the pooch seemed scared, timid and confused, but “he has warmed up and is very excited to be home,” she said.

Alejandro will be made into a service dog so Vermani can bring him anywhere without the fear of breaking the law, she said.

“Whoever took him it seemed like they were trying to take care of him,” she said. “I’m at least grateful for that although he definitely looks like he’s lost weight.”

A happy Alejandro. (Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)
A happy Alejandro. (Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)