GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – A French bulldog that was stolen earlier this month in Glendale has been reunited with its family, while the suspect accused in the theft has been arrested.
On Oct. 5, a woman was walking her dog named Niño in a mobile home park near 63rd and Maryland Avenue in Glendale when the suspect, later identified as Eduardo Hidalgo-Mendez, approached. Court documents say he grabbed the dog while the leash was wrapped around the woman’s wrist and fought with her, causing injuries. She later told police that she bit the suspect in the back while trying to fight back, but Hidalgo-Mendez pulled her and the dog partially into a blue Chevy Equinox while trying to drive away. Documents say the woman was dragged 10 feet when she soon fell and hit the ground. She also told officers there was a woman in the passenger seat.
On Tuesday, Oct. 25, Glendale police asked for the public’s help in their search for the dog and the suspect who stole Niño. On Wednesday, Glendale police got an email from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office that said Hidalgo-Mendez had been video chatting with an inmate, who told Hidalgo-Mendez to “go home, and lay low, and sell his car.” According to court papers, the reporting deputy checked other calls and found that Hildago-Mendez spoke with an inmate about “an incident that occurred on the news” and that he showed an inmate the backseat of his car during the video chat, showing a brindle French bulldog.
On the call, Hidalgo-Mendez reportedly told the inmate he planned on selling the dog, court papers say. They continued that the inmate asked Hidalgo-Mendez why he was driving around with the dog, to which he responded, “I know fool, I need to sell him.” The deputy then followed up on the identity of the dog and confirmed it was the same dog Glendale police were looking for.
On Thursday, Hidalgo-Mendez was found and arrested at his home. During the investigation, officers found a grey leash and harness behind a couch, property described by the woman who owned the dog. According to court papers, during Hidalgo-Mendez’s arrest, a woman yelled out to him to “call her when he got out.” Later, police learned that she was Hidalgo-Mendez’s girlfriend. She told investigators that she wasn’t involved or present during the theft.
Hidalgo-Mendez reportedly denied that he’d ever been involved in robbing a woman of her dog or fighting her. He told officers that he’d given his car to a “tweaker” on Monday who was reportedly a friend of his brother’s. Court papers say he told investigators that the “tweaker” borrowed his car for a while, and when he returned the vehicle, he dropped off the bulldog at Hidalgo-Mendez’s house. Police found two bitemarks on his back, but when asked where he’d gotten the marks, Hidalgo-Mendez said his girlfriend bites him because they’re “freaky.”
Hidalgo-Mendez said he didn’t take the dog and wasn’t planning on selling it, court papers say, and that he asked investigators why they “keep saying that I keep trying to make this dog into a thousand dollars.” Investigators had not asked him about the dog’s estimated worth or being sold for a thousand dollars during the interview. During a later phone call, court papers say officers overheard him tell his mother that his “charges were small,” which police say indicated that he was not remorseful of his reported crime.
The dog was returned to the woman and reportedly happily recognized its family. Watch the happy reunion below from Glendale Police Department:
Watch as Nino, the French bulldog that was stolen earlier this month in Glendale, is reunited with his family after being found by Glendale Police officers.
Hidalgo-Mendez faces various charges including robbery, endangerment, theft, and trafficking. He also has had multiple violent priors and is currently on probation for violent felonies, court papers say.
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