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Puppy left for dead in suitcase reunited with owners in North Pole

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Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:40 pm | Updated: 10:35 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Life has returned to normal for Scrappy, the puppy who was left for dead in a suitcase inside a Fairbanks Dumpster earlier this month.

Wednesday afternoon found the 4-month-old Labrador-pit bull mix playing with siblings Sativa, Brutus and Little One in a North Pole area yard. He looked happy and energetic as he worked with one of his smaller siblings to pin down big brother Brutus.

After spending an unknown amount of time inside the suitcase and more than a week in protective custody at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter, Scrappy was returned to his owners, Lyndsey Moeller and Austin Warnke, on Friday. He was not obviously affected by his ordeal, though they’ve had to stop him from over-indulging in food, Moeller said.

Scrappy was one of 11 puppies in a litter delivered by a dog owned by Moeller’s stepmother. He was given to Moeller as a gift for her birthday. The man who rescued Scrappy thought he was part great Dane, but Moeller said he is a mix of Labrador, pit bull and redbone coon hound. He’s named for a dog in the Adam Sandler movie “Don’t Mess with the Zohan.”

Scrappy went missing one night earlier this month. Moeller suspects that someone she knows took him because they believed she might have stolen something from them and wanted to retaliate.

As of Wednesday no one has been charged or arrested for taking the puppy, and Moeller did not want to publicly identify the people she believes took the dog until they are formally charged.

Moeller has moved to a different home to protect Scrappy from being kidnapped again.

Whoever had Scrappy must have intended to give him a death sentence. Dennis Preslan happened to notice an out-of-place blue suitcase late one night while inspecting a private Dumpster at Growden Memorial Park for his janitorial business. Inside, he found Scrappy, who he said was gagged with a bandanna.

Scrappy was taken to the animal shelter, where he lived until Moeller and Warnke heard about him on the news and verified he was their dog with veterinary records and an old Polaroid photo.

Preslan was one of several volunteers who offered to adopt Scrappy while is original owners were being identified. He came by Wednesday to visit the puppy.

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter, @FDNMcrime.

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