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Fugitive pit bull found in Reno, owner cited

Max, the fugitive pit bull, is back in custody, and he’s scheduled to be euthanized next week.

The a 3-year-old, 70-pound red nose pit bull — sprung from an animal shelter in Alameda, California — was located at a Reno motel and placed in a local shelter.

An Alameda animal control officer will drive to Reno on Monday to retrieve Max, after which the dog will be destroyed, Alameda police Sgt. Jill Ottaviato said Friday.

Max’s co-owner Melissa Perry, 38, was found with the dog and was cited by Reno police for possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. An arrest warrant was also issued for Perry in Alameda County Friday on charges of burglary and receiving stolen property.

Police say Perry and her boyfriend, Richard Cochran, 57, conspired to free Max from the Alameda shelter the day before he was to be euthanized in connection with having bitten two people.

Cochran appeared in an Oakland courtroom Friday on charges of second-degree commercial burglary and receiving stolen property, both felonies, and he is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

Perry, in a phone interview with the Chronicle Friday morning from Reno,  said someone had tipped animal control officials to Max’s whereabouts.

“I don’t care about going to jail,” Perry said. “It’s not about me, it’s about Max. He’s my protector. That’s my companion. That’s my best friend.”

Perry said neither she nor Cochran had anything to do with the break-in at the animal shelter Wednesday — the day after an Alameda County Superior Court commissioner ordered Max destroyed.

But after the hearing, police say, Cochran bought a set of bolt cutters, and the couple’s pickup truck was seen on surveillance video taken outside the animal shelter the morning of the break-in.

Cochran told police that two other people were involved in the plot to free Max, but investigators said they now doubt that story.

“There are people all over this country who form strong emotional attachments to their pets, particularly dogs, and I think many people feel as though that dog, that animal, is part of their family,” said Demetrius Costy, Cochran’s attorney.

“The idea that a pet is going to be executed could cause someone to be very distraught,” Costy said, “which could lead someone to act out of character.”