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ND dog stolen four years ago returned to family in better shape than they thought

This is the English bulldog that was found in an abandoned home in Minot, N.D., four years after it was stolen from a Williston, N.D., family's home. Special to Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D.—The English bulldog returned to a family four years after it was stolen in Williston is looking "happier and healthier" than the owners expected.

"I was very surprised," said Pete Vachal, who picked up the dog 125 miles away in Minot at the police animal control office on Friday, Dec. 23.

The dog was found earlier in the week, dirty and dehydrated, in what police said was a "drug house" where the people living there had been evicted. The dog named "Karley" and a cat were left abandoned in the rental unit. The dog's microchip helped animal control track down Vachal.

It was more than four years ago when Vachal said he let the then 2-year-old Karley and the family's yellow Labrador out to go to the bathroom.

The Lab came back, but they never saw the English bulldog again.

The Vachal children were "heartbroken," at the time, he said.

Vachal said with the crime brought on by the oilfield rush in the area, he said he had a "motorcycle, four-wheeler and the dog stolen, but the only one I ever got back now was the dog."

His children, now 14, 10 and 5, were "pretty excited" when he told them on Wednesday that the dog had been found.

The oldest child, he said, had tears in his eyes when he found out.

The younger ones don't remember the dog as much, he said, as it was almost 1,000 days since they had last seen it.

Vachal said after the dog was stolen they called all of the pounds and vet clinics in the area, but their pet never turned up. "We knew if they had it, we had the chip in the dog, and that we'd get it back," he said.

But not four years later.