A Baker City man accused of taking a family’s pet dog from a Foothill Drive yard has been charged with first-degree theft, criminal trespassing and animal abandonment after allegedly failing to return the dog to his owners.
Clayton Carver Hickman, 18, of Baker City is accused of taking Kobe, an 8-month-old Chihuahua/wirehaired terrier mix, from the fenced yard of Stephanie and Luke Beard the morning of July 19.
The case has been referred to the District Attorney’s office and will go before a grand jury or proceed to a preliminary hearing to finalize charges, a Sheriff’s Department press release stated.
Stephanie Beard said Kobe disappeared between 7:30 and 7:45 the morning of July 19 when she took her daughter, Emma, 16, to work. Her 14-year-old son, Michael, was in the shower at the time. Her husband, Luke, was away from the home working in Alaska.
Beard said when she returned to her house she soon discovered that Kobe was not outside with the family’s other dogs.
She and her son began looking for Kobe, thinking he had bypassed the fence, although Kobe typically did not try to get out, she said.
When her neighbor heard Beard and her son looking for the dog he reported that he’d seen a young adult male drive to the house in a dark-colored SUV. The neighbor reported that the man got out of the vehicle and went into the yard and took the dog.
Beard said she called Baker City Police to report the theft.
Investigators identified Hickman as a suspect. Beard said Hickman is an acquaintance of the family who had attended school with her daughter. Hickman had stayed in an outbuilding on their property for a short time, but she had not seen him recently.
Baker City Police Chief Ray Duman said the case was turned over to the Baker County Sheriff’s Office because of a conflict of interest with his department and because Hickman had preferred to talk to a Sheriff’s Department officer.
Hickman told authorities he had picked Kobe up to take him for a ride. He said the dog jumped out of his vehicle near Quail Ridge Golf Course.
Beard said she also has learned that Hickman stated he took Kobe to the area of Ebell Creek, about 6 miles southeast of Baker City off Highway 30.
Beard said her family is offering a reward of at least $500 for information that leads to helping them find Kobe. In addition to searching for their pet, they have distributed fliers and have provided updates of their efforts on Facebook.
Beard said she took last week off from her job with the county to search the Ebell Creek area.
“We still search, and continue to pray for a miracle that our sweet Kobe made it to a passing car, or someone who is not aware of social media, but unfortunately after details we fear this may not be the case,” she wrote in an email to the Herald.
“Therefore we feel it still incredibly important for any tips or sightings to be reported to help law enforcement piece together what happened.”
Anyone with information about Kobe’s disappearance is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 541-523-6415.