Dognapper pleads guilty
Drago, owners being reunited
Article Last Updated: 06/13/2008 11:58:12 PM EDT
BRIDGEPORT — This Father's Day will be a poignant one for Nathan Bird.
On Friday, the Norwalk man went to the Stratford animal control shelter to pick up his "child" — 2-year-old Drago, a German shepherd, after the woman who spirited the dog away for several months pleaded guilty in Superior Court.
Dawn Marie Pieger, 43, of West Broad Street, Stratford, pleaded guilty Friday before Superior Court Judge James P. Ginocchio to one count of fourth-degree larceny. She was sentenced to a one-year suspended term, followed by two years probation.
As a condition of the probation, the judge ordered Pieger to undergo psychiatric evaluation and treatment and not to have any contact with the dog or its owners.
As part of the plea bargain, Pieger also agreed to sign paperwork that would allow Nathan Bird to pick up his dog at the animal shelter. She had no comment at she left the Golden Hill Street courthouse.
On June 6, Stratford police raided Pieger's home and found Drago. Pieger had previously refused to disclose where she was keeping the dog, who was taken from its owners five months ago.
Since the dog's disappearance, the Birds received reports that it had been spotted in Germany, Canada and eastern Connecticut.
"It's been a long time coming, but the outcome we wanted all along has finally occurred," said Bird as he drove to pick up the dog. "I want to thank the prosecutor, Craig Nowak and Stratford Police Officer Kevin Lyman."
Pieger, owner of Von Wymar German shepherds, is accused of taking the dog — formally named Drago Von Wymar — while the Birds were on vacation and refusing to tell them where the dog was.
Bird and his wife bought Drago from Pieger for $1,300 in October 2006, and the breeder had offered to board the dog for free whenever they went away.
Bird also mentioned to Pieger that he intended to neuter Drago. On Jan. 15, Pieger agreed to board Drago while the Birds were vacationing in Costa Rica. But when they returned, Bird said Pieger would not return the dog or tell them where it was.
Police said when they confronted Pieger, she claimed the Birds had signed over ownership of the dog to her and produced a document purporting to have been signed by them. However, the Birds claim the signatures were not theirs.
Bird said Pieger appeared to be upset when the Birds discussed neutering the dog.
"We were seeking her counsel on whether to have the dog neutered," Bird said. "We still haven't made up our minds what is best for the dog and we will be seeking counsel on that, but you can be sure it won't be from Pieger," he added.