Man arrested after breaking into kennel

A still from a video surveillance camera at the Hollister Animal Shelter, 1331 South Street, allegedly shows suspect Cecil Chalfant approaching the overnight kennel May 5, according to police. Credit: Hollister Police Department

Hollister Police last week arrested a man who allegedly broke into the city’s drop-off shelter to steal a dog he claimed was his own.

On May 5, a concerned citizen noticed a dog running loose in the City of Hollister, according to a press release from Hollister Police Department. The citizen was unable to determine the dog’s owner, so she took the animal to the Hollister Police Animal Care and Services Shelter. The shelter has an overnight drop-off kennel available for people to drop off lost dogs.

The woman placed the lost dog in the overnight kennel, which locks after the door is closed. She posted a photo of the dog on social media in hopes of reaching its owner, along with a notification that the animal had been dropped off at the overnight kennel, police said.

Later that day, video surveillance at the animal shelter captured a man and a woman arriving at the facility, then leaving soon after, police said. The same man later returned and used tools to break into the kennel and removed the dog.

Police were notified and started an investigation. Police identified the man as Cecil Chalfant, 51, who told officers he was the owner of the dog, according to the press release.

Chalfant said he noticed the posting on social media and responded to the shelter and found his dog locked in the kennel, according to authorities. The man made no attempt to contact the police or anyone at the shelter. He also made no attempt to contact the shelter on the following Monday to tell them what he had done.

Chalfant was cited on suspicion of burglary, and issued a citation for having a dog running at large, according to police. He was released from custody after he was issued the citations.

“The Hollister Animal Care and Services Bureau would like to thank the responsible citizens who did the right thing and took the time to take the loose dog to the shelter,” the press release states. “Dogs running at large are always in danger of being killed by a car, being attacked by another animal or being stolen. The overnight kennels are checked every day by animal shelter staff—even on the weekends. There are blankets and water in the kennels, and they are cleaned every day.”

The city’s animal shelter is located at 1331 South Street.

Taking a lost dog to the shelter helps to ensure the rightful owner has a place to check if a dog has been found, police added. Those who post on social media that an unknown dog has been found have no way to determine if the person attempting to pick up their lost pet has no way of knowing if they are the rightful owner. Citizens can expose themselves to liability if return a found dog to the first person who claims to be its owner.

The animal shelter staff can verify local records or check for a microchip to confirm the rightful owner, police said.

Anyone who has lost a pet or is seeking more information on licensing and vaccination requirements can contact the Hollister Police Animal Care and Services Bureau at (831) 636-4320.

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