Best friends! Dognapped Winston is back where he belongs

The Brooklyn Paper
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Winston is back!

A Prospect Heights couple’s hunt for its beloved dog has ended with joy — and serious allegations against a cop who apparently tried to pawn the pooch off on strangers so he wouldn’t have to deal with the paperwork.

Michael Reinhardt and Kumiko Masaoka reunited with their lovable white West Highland Terrier on Sunday after a Brownsville woman — who spotted a flier about the dog — called to tell them that she’d had the pup for over a month.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Reinhardt, comparing the feeling to finding a lost child. “It’s a good day.”

Up until Sunday, Reinhardt — a doctor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center — and Masaoka believed that their 1-year-old best friend had been stolen because a police officer told him three con-women had convinced him they owned the pup.

But Crystal French, the 24-year-old who returned Winston, told Reinhardt that the cop had in fact asked her to take Winston, explaining he didn’t have time to do the paperwork.

Several other witnesses — whom Reinhardt encountered while hanging fliers near Franklin Avenue, where Winston went missing — made similar claims, noting that the officer had asked several people to “adopt” the pooch.

“He asked them if they wanted a free dog,” Reinhardt said, adding he believes French’s story and considers her credible. “It’s not right.”

Reinhardt’s nightmare began in early August, after he and Masaoka left the Ra Ra Riot concert in Prospect Park with the dog at around 9 pm.

They headed to the park’s Long Meadow, but Winston got spooked by a flashing dog collar light and ran away during off-leash hours. He was wearing a dog collar, but not his dog tag.

A would-be rescuer found the outgoing pup soon after but, instead of taking him to a shelter, she handed him over to the officer. But that’s where the stories diverge.

The police offer this account: Officer Yen, whose first name has not been provided, only relinquished the dog after three women in a black sedan lied to him, saying that they were Winston’s rightful owners.

But French and other witnesses — who have described the officer’s physical appearance — say that Yen approached the car and asked the women they would take the dog.

French couldn’t be reached by press time — but her cousin, Destiny, said, “She was trying to do a good thing. That cop told her [Winston] was homeless.”

It wouldn’t be the first time officers within the Classon Avenue stationhouse have been accused of paperwork shenanigans. In February, Internal Affairs launched a still-open probe that accused higher-ups at the busy precinct — which includes Prospect Heights and Crown Heights — of manipulating crime statistics.

Yen’s behavior — no matter which story you believe — is not in line with “proper procedure,” according to police sources, although an NYPD spokeswoman did not explain the proper protocol by press time.

Yen also did not returned several calls from The Brooklyn Paper. His superior noted he has not been reprimanded, noting, “This is news to me.”

But dog lovers — even those who understand the perils of a busy cop in a crime-plagued neighborhood — still find the puppy hand-off abhorrent, saying it’s almost on par with ignoring a lost kid.

“If [Yen] was too lazy to do his paperwork, then maybe he should be assigned to be a community liaison team … to learn [how to] see the community through other people’s eyes,” said Bob Ipcar of FIDO, Prospect Park’s dog advocacy group.

Reinhardt echoed that idea, saying that the NYPD should be held accountable for the heartache and confusion he’s felt for the past five weeks.

“They can’t do this to people,” he said. “It’s just wrong.”

Updated 5:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
Yes,. another heart warming story about our men in blue. Too busy to do their jobs. Different set of rules for them and their friends. Fair and unbiased in their day to day dealings with the public. Preserve and Protect all the way!

Donuts anyone?
Sept. 14, 2011, 3:45 pm
Soledad from Bay Ridge says:
I'm very glad they got their dog back, I can't imagine their despair. But please, why didn't the dog have a tag on? C'mon, dog owners, don't make it difficult to return the dog!
Sept. 14, 2011, 5:05 pm
tom from slope says:
i hope yen gets cancer.
Sept. 15, 2011, 10:46 am
ilovebrooklyn says:
If this is true, that officer should be canned.
Sept. 15, 2011, 11:04 am
AN from Park Slope says:
It's the law to always have a tag, rabies vaccine info, and NYC permit. It would have helped avoid the heartache. Especially if you let your dog run off leash.
Sept. 15, 2011, 1:54 pm
Whynot from ParkSlope says:
Like usual the police get blamed for all the ills of society by the yuppies of the world. Instead of the true owners being mad at the person in possession of the dog they decide to aim their anger towards the NYPD. Amazing. No doubt a shyster lawyer will be retained by these liberal fools.
Sept. 15, 2011, 8:45 pm
UmadBro? from wat says:
They turned in the dog only for the reward.
Sept. 20, 2011, 11:37 am
richie rich from parkslope says:
parkslope's police precent by flatbush ave is a failure. they need new leadership
Sept. 23, 2011, 11:45 am

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