What should’ve been a simple stop at the store turned into a nightmare for Don Duffel when thieves took off with this truck—and his dog.
Two weeks ago, Duffel—who co-owns East Mountain Auto and RV Repair in Edgewood—went into the Walmart on Eubank in Albuquerque. When he came out, his 1997 Chevy pickup truck was gone.
The worst part is, Duffel’s dog, a four-year-old Shepherd mix named Ivy, had been in the truck. “She’s my buddy, I take her just about everywhere I go,” Duffel said. He noted that he’d parked in the shade, left the windows open a few inches, and was only going to be inside the store for a few minutes.
“And it was one of those things where you go, ‘Are you kidding me? It’s an old raggedy Chevy truck,’” he said.
Ivy, who looks as though she’d be right at home sitting next to Jed Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies, is so laid back and friendly that Duffel said she probably would’ve been more likely to lick the thieves than bark at them.
“She’s the kind of dog that would carry the bag for the burglar,” he said.
So Duffel called the police, notified Walmart security and asked them to check their surveillance video—which showed the thieves taking off—and then he contacted his repair shop’s co-owner, Lori Weiss.
“When I called Lori, I was crying,” Duffel said.
The two drove around looking for Ivy, but came up empty. “We were thinking they might hurt her, because you just never know, so on the way back, we were praying to God, ‘just take care of her,’” Duffel said.
As it happens, the thieves dumped Ivy almost immediately. She was found within an hour near a mobile home park just a few blocks from the Walmart.
The folks who found Ivy called Animal Humane and the dog was taken to a shelter on the West Side.
Because Ivy has a microchip implant, the shelter was able to locate Duffel’s contact information—except his cell number on file was wrong.
“The cell number they had was off by a few digits,” he said. Fortunately, the number for Duffel’s repair shop was also on file.
But because it was Sunday when the shelter staff called, they got his shop’s voicemail, and Duffel didn’t get the message until he went into work Monday morning.
“I loaded up and went and got her right away,” he said.
Duffel said the police told him there are more than 30 cars stolen in Albuquerque every day, often with animals in them.
“Why we were blessed to get her back, I don’t know, but we’ll take it,” he said.
As for the pickup, Duffel said he’ll probably never see it again, but that’s OK.
“People ask me, ‘Did you get your truck back?’” he said. “And I say, ‘Nope, but I got my dog—that’s what counts.’ I got my best friend back. Life wouldn’t be the same without her.”