Stolen hedgehog back safe and sound in Whitehorse pet store

·3 min read
A hedgehog sits in a glass enclosure at the Harry hedgehog café in Tokyo, Japan, in this 2016 file photo. A young African Pygmy hedgehog, the most common type kept as a pet, has been returned to a pet store in Whitehorse after it was stolen early last week. (Thomas Peter/Reuters - image credit)
A hedgehog sits in a glass enclosure at the Harry hedgehog café in Tokyo, Japan, in this 2016 file photo. A young African Pygmy hedgehog, the most common type kept as a pet, has been returned to a pet store in Whitehorse after it was stolen early last week. (Thomas Peter/Reuters - image credit)

It was an unusual theft that gripped Whitehorse for four days last week.

Near the end of the workday on Tuesday, a young African Pygmy hedgehog was brazenly stolen from Duffy's Pets while staff were in the back cleaning up and getting everything ready for when the store would reopen on Thursday.

At one point, store employee Camille Saunders heard a beep from the store's front door sensor, indicating someone had come in.

Everyone was busy in the back, said Saunders.

"About 30, 40 seconds, she was in and out," said Saunders about the woman who had walked in.

Saunders said the woman put the hedgehog in her purse, walked out, and by the time Saunders was able to get to the store's floor from the back, the woman was on her way out.

"The best part [is] ... we still require masks in the store but she was not wearing a mask so I could see her entire face."

She said the only reason she noticed the woman had taken the hedgehog was because the lock was overturned in the hedgehog's enclosure.

"I pay pretty close attention to my animals. So I know when something's changed," said Saunders.

'Whitehorse was definitely on my side'

Over the course of the next few days, Saunders said she received a lot of messages from people suggesting who the woman was and where she might be found.

She said people called the store with tips, and they were able to figure out the woman's name, all of which Saunders forwarded to police.

"I think that played a huge role in getting her back quickly, as quickly as we did, because she was only gone for about four days," said Saunders.

"Whitehorse was definitely on my side."

Sure enough, on Friday night, Saunders received a call from police. They told her they knew where the woman lived and would be going to her house and hopefully get the hedgehog back.

Later that night, after 11, the RCMP called Saunders again to let her know that the woman had handed the hedgehog over and that it was at the detachment. Police were wondering what to do with the animal.

"So I just went through and picked [the hedgehog] up and brought her back to the store," said Saunders.

"It was amazing," she said.

'She's in perfect condition'

"I had no hope, basically, that we were getting [the hedgehog] back. It's cold. It was snowing. I don't know where this person lives. Basically, I just had no idea, and I really didn't know what her intent was, either to sell it or to keep it, or to release it to the wild."

She added she had been afraid for the hedgehog.

But, all was good.

The woman had kept the hedgehog in a cardboard box with some blankets and given it some water.

"She was carrying it around in her purse, so it was with her the whole time," said Saunders. "Now [the hedgehog] is very used to human contact, so that's good."

Saunders said the hedgehog was hungry and drank a lot of water when she returned to the store.

"She spent about probably a day and a half just in the back of her cage. Just sleeping, I imagine," said Saunders.

"She's in perfect condition."

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