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Prize-winning show dog, stolen van recovered

Jasper the Boxer was in a silver van in front of the Envision Hotel Saturday when both were taken.

SOUTH ST PAUL, Minn. — A woman says her prize-winning dog, Jasper, is home after he was stolen along with her minivan Saturday from a South St. Paul hotel.

In a Facebook post Monday, Jasper's owner Michelle Cramblett Baker wrote, "Jasper has been found and is alive very cold and hungry but we have him back!!!!"

Jasper has been found and is alive very cold and hungry but we have him back!!!!!

Posted by Michelle Cramblett Baker on Monday, January 10, 2022

Baker says Jasper was stuck inside the abandoned, cold van for nearly 60 hours after he was discovered by good Samaritans James and Tara Wirtz.

The couple was able to break the van's window at Michelle's request and rescue the dog.

Baker says she plans to provide the couple and their four children a reward of $6,500, the amount she says was raised by her GoFundMe account.

"It was amazing the amount of humanity I’ve experienced...the kindness and the support," she said. "I have so much more faith in people after this experience."

The South St. Paul Police Department also confirmed Monday that Baker's van was recovered.

"With the assistance of our partners with the Saint Paul Police Department, the stolen vehicle has also been recovered and the investigation is ongoing," the department's Facebook post read.

“I feel like I can breathe," Baker said. "I am smiling. My baby is coming home!”

Credit: Michelle Cramblett Baker
A picture of Jasper, the boxer stolen from in front of the Envision Hotel in South St. Paul on Saturday, Jan. 8

Baker and her boxer Jasper were in town for the Land O'Lakes Kennel Club Dog Show and spent Friday night at the Envision Hotel in South St. Paul. Baker told KARE 11 Jasper was in a kennel in the back of her 2013 silver Town and Country minivan when the vehicle was stolen.

"That dog is all I care about. That’s all I want back," Baker had said. "We went to 101 shows last year. He sleeps in my bed. I was there when that dog was born. That’s my dog."

At the time Jasper was missing, Baker said that the thief could keep her van and purse, as long as they returned her missing dog. 

On Wednesday, the Dakota County Attorney's Office charged a man in connection with the crime with one count of theft of a motor vehicle and one count of driving after cancellation of inimical to public safety.

His first court hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning.

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