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2 dogs taken in string of armed robberies in DC

<p>File photo</p>

Police are searching for four suspects in a string of events involving three armed robberies and an assault that involved the theft of two dogs in D.C. Wednesday.

The first event happened just before 4:15 p.m. on the 5400 block of Kansas Avenue Northwest. D.C. police said a suspect brandished a gun and demanded the victim’s dog and property. They then fled the scene.

The dog is a 1-year-old French bulldog name Bruno. It wore a black collar and a black leash.

The second event happened just before 4:30 p.m. on the 2000 block of 8th Street Northeast. A suspect brandished a gun and demanded the victim’s dog and property.

The dog is a 10-week-old male Australian shepherd with black and brown fur and a blue left eye. It goes by the name of Pablo.

Abby Sevcik and boyfriend Rick Oleka fostered Pablo from K-9 Lifesavers. Sevcik was inside a CVS in the area while Oleka was outside waiting for her. That’s when a car pulled up and four people got out, Oleka said.

He described them as young, between 16 to 20 years old, and they were all wearing masks.

“And then next thing I know, I looked down and there’s a gun on my chest. And the guy is saying, he was wearing a black hoodie, and he’s saying, ‘Let me get your dog,’” Oleka said.

A person he said was wearing red hoodie picked up Pablo and walked away and two of the suspects went back to the car. Another suspect asked about his wallet, which Oleka did not have with him. He did hand over his phone. Then the two other suspects who got out of the car returned to the vehicle. All four then fled the scene.

Less than 10 minutes later, police arrived on the 2100 block of 4th Street Northeast after hearing gunshots. They found two men who had been shot. They were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

The fourth incident happened just before 4:50 p.m. on the 1300 block of 2nd Street Northeast.

Police said one suspect brandished a gun and demanded property from a victim, and then fled in the vehicle.

Detectives are asking for help in identifying and finding the suspects. The car used in the robberies has been found.

“I just want my dog back,” Oleka said. “We both just want Pablo back. We hope he’s safe.”

Chris Schindler, Vice President of Field Services for the Humane Rescue Alliance, said it isn’t a common occurrence for pets to be stolen directly from their owners, “but it does happen, unfortunately.”

The HRA is working to help find the stolen pets.

“We’re heartbroken as well that Bruno and Pablo have been separated from their families,” Schindler said.

If your pet gets lost or stolen, Schindler said to expand your reach beyond your local shelter.

“We have shelters all surrounding Washington, D.C., so it’s really critically important to contact the surrounding area shelters as well,” he said. “We always recommend keeping up to date photographs of your pet and veterinary records so you can prove ownership of your animal.”

Once your pet is microchipped, make sure you keep that information updated.

“Your phone numbers, your email address, your name,” and Schindler said to be sure to provide a secondary contact if you can’t be reached for some reason.

Schindler and animal welfare advocates always encourage people to adopt their pets rather than shop online, but if you do, Schindler says ask questions about the pet and see if you can verify the ownership of the animal.

That could mean in the case of a puppy or kitten, asking to see the parents of the animal. It could also mean asking whether the pet’s been microchipped, and then seeing if the seller is willing to meet at a shelter or a vet’s office where the microchip can be scanned.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan and Dick Uliano contributed to this report.