OTTAWA, Kan. -- An area dog is back home after his owner traveled to Galveston, Texas to pay the people he calls "dog-nappers" ransom.
A chocolate lab named Maggie is the friendly face customers of Central R.V. have come to know and love.
“She just opens up the door with her nose goes over to the gas station and moseys around and puts on the sad face and gets food from people,” said owner Nick Ford.
But Wednesday, March 3rd Maggie never came back. Ford started searching that afternoon an hour or so after Maggie's disappearance.
“When it was dark, I definitely knew something had gone wrong,” he said.
After some begging of his own, Ford was able to get surveillance video from the neighboring business that showed Maggie walking around the gas station, then go behind it and simply vanish. Ford had already called Ottawa police, but as he watched an RV pull from behind the gas station on the video, that’s where he decided he’d start his own investigation.
“You can clearly see the vehicle come in and out of there and it’s a one of a kind vehicle,” Ford said.
He took to social media offering a $3,000 reward for information or Maggie's safe return.
A couple days later Ford said he got a call from a blocked number, saying they’d found the dog in Texas. But the people who had Maggie said they didn’t have a bank account, Ford was to bring cash for the reward.
“Nothing was adding up that she was telling me, I just played stupid that I just wanted my dog back and I didn’t care what the details were,” Ford said.
Ford hopped in his car and headed to Galveston, Texas, 14 hours away. Everyone back home was holding out hope they’d see Maggie again. A 4-year old daughter of Ford's co-worker made a drawing for the dog.
“That’s the mean boy, and mean girl and sad Maggie and a heart.”
Ford kept messaging the people holding Maggie online as he drove, who wouldn't share a phone number, saying they had no phone reception.
Ford recorded the moment he saw his beloved pooch again and was overcome with emotion. He also knew he was about to turn the tables on the people who called themselves heroes.
“I say, 'before I pay you, could you take a look at this,' and I pulled out of my backpack full of the multiple Facebook accounts, along with the surveillance video of the vehicle that really stole Maggie, and the one that he’s driving right now, and it was like a deer in headlights,” Ford said.
Ford paid a portion of what he calls ransom and brought Maggie home Tuesday. But he made sure to get a plate number and hopes the dognappers will be brought to justice.
Ottawa Police Captain Adam Weingartner called Maggie's return a success story and said, "You can never discount the speed of social media."
Police say they are still working to get that surveillance video and are anxious to speak to Ford about what he’s already uncovered. Anyone with information is asked to call Ottawa Police at (785) 242-1700 or Franklin County Crime Stoppers.