A statue of a boy and his canine companion, which has welcomed guests to the Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital for at least 10 years, was discovered stolen this week and has caused heartbreak among many in the Mountain Area community.
“It sickens me,” said Sally Wider-Reda, practice manager at the hospital. “I feel like we’ve been violated. This hospital is our home, and that’s why it hurt us so much.”
Employees at the hospital discovered the statue missing the morning of Dec. 7, and reported it to the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the case.
Wider-Reda said it’s hoped that spreading word about the theft through the news and community will help track down the symbolic sculpture.
Lt. Bill Ward of the sheriff’s office agreed.
“Every little bit helps,” Ward said. “The more people help look out for the statue or call in information, the better chance we’ll have finding it.”
The sheriff’s office can be reached at (559) 675-7770.
A Facebook post by the hospital helped start spreading the word, as dozens spoke out in shock about the crime.
“I am at a loss for words,” Lynne Bartlett said. “What has become of our town? I am so sad this happened to you.”
“I hope it will be recovered soon,” added Phillip Steck. “My thoughts are for your loss. Truly a heartless crime.”
After that post was made, hundreds shared the story.
Wider-Reda said the statue, which is made out of composite materials that can’t be melted down for sale, was very heavy, and likely required multiple thieves to take it from the premises.
Also, people involved were prepared, as they knew a security camera in front of the building has its view blocked by an overhanging roof, Wider-Reda said.
“They totally scoped this out,” Wider-Reda said. “They had to have been prepared, and must have needed rope or something.”
Despite that, Wider-Reda said the statue will make its return.
“We will replace it one way or the other,” Wider-Reda said. “We’re not going to let whoever did this keep us from having a nice statue out front. We’re not going to bow down to this.”