Bulldogs reunited with owners after being stolen at gunpoint in downtown Atlanta

Bulldogs Scotch and Stogie were taken from a dogwalker in downtown Atlanta on Sunday evening, police said.

Credit: Matthew Livingston

Credit: Matthew Livingston

Bulldogs Scotch and Stogie were taken from a dogwalker in downtown Atlanta on Sunday evening, police said.

The downtown Atlanta neighborhood surrounding Matthew Livingston’s loft has always felt safe during countless walks he took with his two friendly bulldogs. Both were rescue dogs, he said, each with a unique personality, who loved everyone they came across on the street.

“They’re my kids,” he said. “We’ve had them for two years, and they go everywhere with me.”

On Sunday, the 44-year-old was thousands of miles away from Scotch, an English bulldog, and Stogie, an American bulldog, while vacationing with his partner in London. They were awakened by a message from their dog sitter that left them frantic and needing to get back home immediately: Their beloved dogs had been stolen at gunpoint from the sitter on the same Castleberry Hill walking route they often took.

“This is so ridiculously surreal that it happened in our neighborhood,” Livingston told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “I run a bar, so I’ve walked them at 2 o’clock in the morning before, never with a fear or an issue.”

The three alleged dognappers, who were carrying handguns, remain on the loose. A shot was fired during the robbery, police said, and the dogs’ collars and leashes were found discarded about eight miles away at Collier Park in northwest Atlanta.

By Tuesday evening, Livingston confirmed that Stogie had been found near Fairburn and Hemphill School roads just outside of I-285 in the Adamsville neighborhood. Livingston said he received a Facebook message from someone who spotted Stogie while walking their own dog.

Scotch was found the same day in the same area by another good Samaritan, but that person was unable to look for his owners until he got off work the following day, Livingston said. The person left Scotch in his house until then, so the dog didn’t spend the night in the frigid temperatures that draped across the region Tuesday night.

“We’re just so happy to have them both home safe,” Livingston said.

UPDATE!!! Both our boys are home safe thanks to Dallas Zuniga who found Stogie and pointed to the right area to search...

Posted by Matthew Livingston on Monday, November 27, 2023

It was just after 8:30 p.m. Sunday when police responded to a robbery call in the 200 block of Walker Street. At the scene, officers spoke with the dog sitter, Joshua Cavanaugh, who said he was walking Scotch and Stogie when the three masked men approached, guns drawn. They demanded the dogs.

Cavanaugh complied, but quickly gave chase as the men ran away with the dogs. Police said one of the suspects fired a shot before getting into a vehicle, which left the area. No one was injured, police said. Livingston was thankful for that.

During the investigation, authorities got word of a nearby car crash that appeared to involve the same vehicle. The driver, who remained at the scene, told officers that three masked men got into his car and forced him to drive at gunpoint.

“The driver complied, but at some point he collided with another vehicle and the three males fled the scene on foot,” police said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the dognapping, but police said the driver of the crashed vehicle was later taken into custody for having an outstanding warrant from an unrelated incident. He was booked into the Fulton County Jail. His name was not released.

Sunday’s incident was the latest involving a stolen bulldog in metro Atlanta.

In August, 22-year-old Jayden McKinnon was fatally shot by a suspect who robbed him and stole his French bulldog at the Willowest in Lindbergh apartment complex in Buckhead. He was walking his two dogs at the time. A week later, David Edward Kinney was arrested on multiple charges related to the incident, police said. The dog was recovered, and both of McKinnon’s dogs are now living with his mother.

Three years earlier, a French bulldog was stolen from a man at gunpoint in northwest Atlanta’s Washington Park. “The puppy was off its leash and two male suspects took the animal and threatened the victim with a firearm when the victim protested,” police said after the August 2020 crime.

The previous summer, a 4-month-old Merle French bulldog was taken from a woman’s home on Langhorn Way in Norcross. According to the Gwinnett County police report, a bedroom window was open and the light had been left on. The dog was valued at $3,000 in the police report, while the owner said she paid $6,000.

Livingston had left for London on Thanksgiving day and was back in Atlanta on Monday night. Before the dogs were found Tuesday, he was printing flyers to share pictures and information about them. Scotch, for example, is known for running up to people, flipping over on his back and asking for some belly rubs. Stogie is like his “brooding emo son,” he added, and a bit more moody and grumbly.

Livingston is thankful for the help from Atlanta police investigators and the outpouring of support from the community.

“I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for the entire community and everyone that really came together, reached out and worked together, sharing our posts and all the news outlets — all of that coverage, I think really led to bringing them back home so safe and so quickly,” he said.

— Staff writer Caroline Silva contributed to this article.

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