Lori Wolfe/The Herald-Dispatch
Oct. 27, 2011
CULLODEN – The barking sound of a beagle reunited the dog and its owner Thursday, nearly 48 hours to the minute that a thief stole Bob Fannin’s truck with his dog inside at a barbershop in Culloden.
That act separated the beagle named Kenny from its owner for the first time in nearly seven years. The two were reunited midday Thursday on a ridge top along Signal Road.
Fannin’s son-in-law, Dwayne Carter, heard the first bark. Fannin eventually heard another, but the 66-year-old didn’t truly believe it was his beagle’s voice until he saw Kenny riding an all-terrain vehicle up and out of a hollow with Carter and a family friend.
Fannin could only compare the rush of emotion that followed to the feeling of shock and dire helplessness he endured when a thief sped away in his Ford F-150. This time sadness and anger were replaced with pure joy.
“It was just unbelievable,” he said. “It was like a member of your family being lost and now they are found.”
Kenny, a one-time rabbit chaser, returned to his “retirement home” for a bath, Fannin said. He described his beagle to be healthy, although he was obviously wet, cold and hungry.
Meanwhile, deputy sheriffs from Cabell and Putnam counties searched for Stephen Reed. The Cabell County Sheriff’s Office filed an arrest warrant Thursday morning charging the 29-year-old from Culloden with felony grand larceny, said Sgt. Todd Wentz. Anyone with information about Reed’s whereabouts should call 911 or the Cabell County Sheriff’s Office at 304-743-1594.
Fannin vowed to closely follow Reed’s case, but Thursday was a time for reunion. The surprising strength of Kenny’s bark was one reason his master hesitated to believe a homecoming was imminent.
“His voice seemed a little bit strong,” Fannin said. “You know, to be out in the woods and be an older dog like that, I didn’t think he could bark that loud, but he did.”
Guilt was a prominent feeling Fannin endured throughout the 48 hours of separation. He blamed himself for his dog’s disappearance. That’s because he had defied the advice of others, who had warned Fannin about leaving his vehicle unlocked with the keys in the ignition.
Fannin left those items that way Tuesday so the air conditioner would keep his riding buddy cool. The truck was fairly close to the barbershop, and Fannin only expected to be inside for a few minutes. It was something he had done over and over, but one thing he vowed to never do again.
The reason for Fannin’s one-time habit was in part due to the duo’s closeness. The master and his beagle travel about town and everywhere together. They are partners. So much so that Fannin estimates his vacation to New Jersey seven years ago was the last time they were apart.
“He’s just more or less a companion,” he said. “He leaves with me, and he comes home with me.”
That closeness was in part what drove the family to great lengths to find Kenny. Their efforts involved the posting of a $1,000 reward, which was later matched by a woman in Jacksonville, Fla.
They also enlisted a friend’s airplane for an aerial search and did their own detective work. That included speaking with Reed’s girlfriend and his mother, along with speaking to pawn shops and others about the apparent suspect.
Fannin’s daughter, Kathy Carter, said they didn’t worry about going too far.
“We’re just going to give it all we’ve got,” Carter said Thursday morning as volunteers gathered for the ground search that would lead to Kenny’s rescue.
The beagle lives at home with Fannin and his wife, Deborah. They’ve been married for 30 years. Fannin, a retired contractor, said his wife doesn’t get jealous of the love Kenny and his master share.
Wentz joined deputies from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday in a four-hour search for Reed. They went to various prior addresses with no success. The arrest warrant was then forwarded to the U.S. Marshal’s Service C.U.F.F.E.D. Task Force who will continue the search in earnest.
“It will just be a matter of time,” Wentz said speaking of Reed’s arrest.
Fannin’s truck was discovered late Tuesday afternoon at a subdivision along Bills Creek Road near Winfield, W.Va. Authorities credit Reed’s girlfriend with calling police and alerting them to the truck’s location, according to information provided by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.
Putnam County Lt. R.E. Harrison said Thursday his deputies continue to collect evidence in the case. He said if investigators find evidence that places Reed in Fannin’s vehicle, deputies will then confer with prosecutors to contemplate a charge of felony receiving/transferring stolen property.
Authorities last spotted Reed on Wednesday in a wooded area along W.Va. 817, Harrison said.
Additional video at: http://www.wsaz.com/news/headlines/Truck_Stolen_with_Dog_Inside_132657543.html