A Keizer family suspected in 16 residential burglaries has been accused of stealing jewelry, cash, electronics, laptop computers, DVD players, guns, shoes, clothing and big-screen televisions.

But for one Salem couple, the theft was of something much more precious -- their 4-month-old puppy.

Melanie Dague left her home about 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 21 to pick up her son at preschool. Daisy, their English mastiff, was left at home. When Dague returned home a few hours later, however, the front door was wide open.

"My house was trashed," she said. "Everything was torn down. My son's 'Happy Birthday' sign was torn, they smashed his piggy bank, they took our TV. They just walked out the door with it. The house was destroyed."

Dague and her boyfriend, Evan Workman, quickly realized that the TV wasn't the only thing missing. Daisy was gone, too.

"We thought she just ran out," Dague said. "We walked around the park looking for her, and Evan was going from house to house. We were hoping, but we knew someone probably took her. We thought someone knew what kind of dog she was and that they were going to sell her."

"She's 100 percent purebred," Workman said. "We thought someone had gone to the breeder with her."

In the initial press release from Keizer Police, Daisy was identified as a bullmastiff; in reality, she is an English mastiff, a breed of large dog. Daisy also was assigned the wrong name.

It was a humorous mistake, said Deputy Chief Jeff Kuhns. As the lieutenant had been writing the press release, a coworker was repeatedly referring to the "precious" dog that police had found. The name Precious stuck.

A week after Daisy went missing, Dague and Workman received a phone call from Marion County Dog Control: We think we have your puppy. Staff members had recognized the brindle-colored dog from flyers that Workman and his mother had put up across town.

Keizer Police recovered Daisy from a home in the 3600 block of Brooks Avenue NE after serving a search warrant at the house at 5 a.m. Feb. 28. The warrant initially had been for stolen firearms, but police discovered a stash of other items that appeared to have been stolen from several area homes in a string of burglaries, including car parts and electronics.

Among the stolen items was Daisy. Investigators were suspicious when the home's occupants couldn't agree on where the dog came from or who owned her, and Marion County Dog Control was called to take the dog.

Daisy was reunited with her family later that same day.

"Evan, my son and I went straight down there," Dague said. "We were super happy to see her. She recognized us right away."

Workman said he was relieved at Daisy's safe return.

"I can't even explain it. I don't even care if I get my stuff back," he said. "I was in complete shock when she went missing. We lost a couple thousand dollars in items, but it was all about the dog."

Initial reports didn't identify any physical injuries or harm to the dog. But shortly after her return home, Dague and Workman both observed that Daisy was behaving oddly.

"She wouldn't approach me if I was in the kitchen," Workman said. "She was kind of weird, acting cautious."

"She used to beg for food a lot, but since we got her back, she's been acting really weird," Dague agreed. "She'll go put her head down in her dog bed and look the other way and she has a bite mark on her neck from another dog."

But Dague said that more recently, Daisy appears happy and back to normal.

"We consider her a part of our family, and we were all sad and torn up for a week," she said. "So when we heard she was back, we freaked out. It's brought our family back together."


(503) 399-6709 or on Twitter @fosmirel

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