Santa Rosa man reunited with dog after it was stolen along with his car

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A Santa Rosa man celebrated the return of his dog Wednesday morning, three days after she was stolen along with his car from a Cotati parking lot.

The pooch’s disappearance caught the attention of thousands of people on social media, after Dalton James, 35, posted a Facebook message seeking help finding his 11-year-old mix named Kada.

Someone had spotted his dog at a Sausalito area shopping center late Tuesday night and reported it to the Marin Humane animal shelter, which contacted James hours after police found his 1998 white Honda Civic in Port Orford, Oregon.

“It’s extremely relieving,” James said of finding his dog. “I have not cried this much in my life as I have in the last three days.”

James received hundreds of comments on Facebook, but none led him to Kada. He said he grew disillusioned after calls to several animal shelters led nowhere, and when Kada wasn’t found in his car in Oregon.

A woman was pulled over and arrested Tuesday afternoon after Port Orford police said they found her behind the wheel of the stolen car, using a bike lane to pass other vehicles.

“I was very crushed,” James said about when he learned the dog wasn’t in the car.

Late that day, around 10:30 p.m., he got a call from Marin Humane. The woman who reported seeing Kada told the shelter she recognized the dog from photos on social media, said Lisa Bloch, a Marin Humane spokeswoman.

With the help of a Marin County Sheriff’s deputy, he found after a two-hour search his dog in the bushes of a Marin City residential neighborhood — 37 miles from where the car was stolen at about 9:45 a.m. Sunday, James said.

“I gave her a command to heel,” he said. “She walked right back to me and sat down. I exploded with happiness and tears.”

James said he made a stop at the Cotati Coffee Company on Sunday, on his way to visit a friend in Novato. He said he parked his car at a lot near the coffee shop, leaving Kada and his car keys inside.

He returned about 10 minutes later, but the car was gone, he said. In its place was a shopping cart filled with random belongings, including a load of fresh laundry, cleaning supplies and a broken shovel — later reported stolen by a nearby business owner, James said.

“I thought someone was playing a terrible joke and then reality set in,” he said. “I was dumbfounded.”

James said he flagged down a passing Cotati police officer, who searched the neighborhood for the Honda without success. James filed a stolen vehicle report with the police department and posted the Facebook message asking for help just over an hour after Kada went missing.

He owned the dog since she was a puppy, and they regularly went on hikes and camping trips.

“We’ve been together forever,” James said. “I take her everywhere with me.”

By Wednesday afternoon, James had secured a ride to Oregon to retrieve his car, which had been impounded following the woman’s arrest. He planned to take along Kada. The woman, identified as Danielle Lormer, 37, was booked on suspicion of several crimes, including unauthorized use of a car, theft and lying to an officer, according to an arrest log from Curry County, Oregon.

Port Orford Police Chief Hank Hobart said officers also found several open alcohol containers in the car at the time of the arrest. He said Cotati police officers described the woman arrested as homeless and from Cotati, though the Curry County arrest log listed her hometown as Roseville in Placer County.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story identified the wrong county for Roseville. The city is located in Placer County.

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