Tub Tub was just about to head to his forever home.
The 9-year-old Pomeranian had been waiting at the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown, New Jersey, for some time when his adoptive owner arrived on Christmas Eve to take him home, according to NJ.com.
That’s when employees at the shelter realized Tub Tub — who officials told the Asbury Park Press had “a great, special home lined up” — was missing.
"It's really sad on Christmas Eve that we have to experience it,” SPCA Chief and Executive Director Ross Licitra told the Park Press in its original story about the stolen dog.
Domonique Searight, the adoptive owner, told NBC4 that she planned to give her five-year-old twins Tub Tub as their only Christmas gift.
“I'm very heartbroken over the situation,” she told NBC4 after the theft. “It's their Christmas present. Instead of looking around for other things, this was my only plan. I thought the dog would be enough.”
Police began their quest to find the missing dog. Finally, after three days of searching, Tub Tub has been safely located and his alleged thief identified as 63-year-old Susan Bajew, the Eatontown Police Department wrote on Facebook.
Found with the help of an anonymous tip, Bajew was arrested Wednesday and charged with third-degree theft. She had volunteered at the shelter in the past, police wrote, and “confessed to taking the dog (on a day she was shopping at the shelter) due to not having any money to buy it.”
Before Tub Tub was found, there was a $500 reward for whoever could help locate the missing Pomeranian.
Police returned Tub Tub Wednesday to the SPCA, where he “is currently under the medical care of MCSPCA veterinarians, who will be able to determine when he can be reunited with his adoptive family,” the shelter wrote on Facebook.
That’s good news for Searight, who told NBC4 that “Santa can’t wait too long, but we’re always just going to try to keep an open door for Tub Tub, regardless of anything.”