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Stolen puppies come home

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(WEEK/NBC News) -- For Nate Bartell, his four malamute puppies are like his own children, so when he returned home last Monday morning after dropping off his son at school, he was distraught to find his door damaged and his pups gone.

He knew someone had taken them.

"For two days, it was the worst feeling in the world. Not knowing who did it, how they did it if they had guns," said Bartell.

He took to Facebook for help with pictures of the dogs, eventually racking up 24,000 shares throughout the week.

The Peoria County Sheriff's Office said someone eventually reached out to Bartell on Facebook with information of where the puppies were.

After some investigating, the sheriff's office concluded a group of men who had been working on construction near Bartell's house, drove across his yard, kicked down the front door and took the pups from the basement, eventually selling one of them.

Police arrested one of the men on Oct. 22 for residential burglary, but the location of the remaining dogs was unknown until the following day.
Bartell got a call from the Paws Giving Independence Organization, who said they received a tip that the dogs were located in a Mapleton park bathroom, abandoned but okay.

"It was horrible to hear that they were abandoned but honestly it was the biggest relief to my ear," said Bartell. "It was like the best call of my life."

The dogs are a rarer breed of malamute and one-fourth huskie, according to Bartell. He said he was originally planning to sell pups. Now they can get their forever home the proper way.

NBC News

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