A robber who acted as if he had a gun stole a car, and a pet dog, from a surgeon eating lunch in a parking lot in Kansas City on Monday.
Police later found the car, but the fluffy, friendly mutt named Cooper remained missing overnight — which prompted police to ask for the public’s help Tuesday morning.
The publicity worked.
As it turns out, a man had spotted Greg Horton’s pet about 5 a.m. Tuesday at a gas station at 18th Street and Steele Road in Kansas City, Kan. — about 4 miles from where he was dognapped. Shivering, Cooper loitered at the front door, trying to get inside each time it opened, but an employee shooed him away.
Seeing how cold Cooper looked, the man took him home to his wife and children before heading to work.
Cooper immediately drank a few bowls of water, ate some dog food and crawled into a kennel to relax after his nearly 12-hour ordeal. The man’s wife picked leaves from his fur and kept him separated from her own dogs to avoid any dogfights.
She saw a news item posted on Facebook about a dog taken in a carjacking and called police about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“I knew right away, this is the dog I have,” said Liz Trujillo, whose husband found Cooper. “I was so happy to find the owner. You could tell (Cooper) came from a good home.”
Detectives returned Cooper to Horton on Tuesday afternoon. From the dog’s reaction, it was clear that they had the right pet with the right person, police said.
The 50-year-old surgeon was with Cooper at 1215 Westport Road about 5:40 p.m. Monday when a man who appeared to be homeless flipped him his middle finger from across the parking lot.
After the doctor walked into a store to buy a drink, the man who had flipped him off approached and apologized, according to police reports. The man followed the doctor to his car, then grabbed a lanyard around the doctor’s neck. The man shoved his hand into his pocket as if he had a gun, said he didn’t want to be homeless that night and demanded the victim’s car keys.
“Don’t (expletive) with me!” the man snarled. “I will kill you right now!”
The robber sped off in the doctor’s 2013 Kia, with Cooper and the victim’s wallet and coat still inside.
A few hours later, police found the Kia in the parking lot of a bar near 37th and Main streets. Cooper was gone.
Police arrested a 39-year-old man after he exited the bar and entered the Kia. He was wearing the victim’s suede coat, had the victim’s driver’s license and credit card in his pocket and told police he had been “high” since Sunday. He said he didn’t remember anything and that it was “possible” that he robbed the doctor.
Jackson County prosecutors on Tuesday charged Matthew A. Law, who is homeless, with first-degree robbery. He remained in jail.
Cooper is “extremely friendly and kind of bounces around,” Katie Colwell, a nurse who works for Horton, said Tuesday before Cooper had been returned. “He’s very spoiled and went everywhere” with the doctor, who often checked him into doggie daycare when he had to be at work.
Horton was “very worried about him,” Colwell said.
“That’s his buddy.”