Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, had offered a $500 000 reward for the dogs' safe return. File picture: Andrew Kelly
Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, had offered a $500 000 reward for the dogs' safe return. File picture: Andrew Kelly

Woman who returned Lady Gaga's French bulldogs is among five arrested in violent pet theft

By The Washington Post Time of article published Apr 30, 2021

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Meryl Kornfield

About two months after thieves violently accosted pop star Lady Gaga's dog walker, shooting him and stealing her French bulldogs, five people were arrested in connection with the incident, including the person who returned the dogs, authorities announced Thursday.

Los Angeles police alleged that the men who confronted the singer's dog walker - James Jackson, 18, Jaylin White, 19, and Lafayette Whaley, 27 - did not know Lady Gaga owned the two French bulldogs, a popular and expensive breed. The three men were charged with robbery and attempted murder.

Jackson, who authorities allege shot the gun, will also face one count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and a felon carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle, according to District Attorney George Gascón. White faces an additional assault charge.

"This was a brazen street crime that left a man seriously wounded," Gascón said in a statement.

Detectives said Jennifer McBride, 50, who returned the dogs two days after the attack, claiming that she found them, had a relationship with the father of one of the suspects, Harold White, 40. The two were charged with accessory to the shooting.

The four men are documented gang members, according to police.

It was not immediately clear if the five had lawyers.

Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, had offered a $500 000 (about R7 million) reward for the dogs' safe return, sharing an email to contact. At the time of the crime, Lady Gaga was reportedly working on a film in Italy.

McBride reached out to return the dogs that were taken, Koji and Gustav, through the reward email, police said.

A third dog, Asia, escaped the abductors' clutches, lying next to dog walker, Ryan Fischer, as he bled on the sidewalk, he recalled.

"I cradled Asia as best I could, thanked her for all the incredible adventures we'd been on together, apologised that I couldn't defend her brothers, and then resolved that I would still try to save them. . . and myself," Fischer wrote on Instagram while he was recovering from what he said was "a very close call with death."

On February 24, Fischer was walking at about 9:40 p.m. on Sierra Bonita Avenue in Hollywood when a white car approached him and men stepped out, according to a surveillance video of the startling scene. As the men struggled with Fisher, he screamed "no, no, no." Seconds later, one of the men shot him, and Fischer fell back and howled as the car sped off.

"Help me, I've been shot," he cried out. "I've been shot. Oh my god."

With their squat bodies and friendly demeanors, French bulldogs, otherwise called Frenchies, are especially Instagram-worthy and in vogue among dog owners. In 2020, they were the second most popular dog breed in the country after Labrador retrievers, according to the American Kennel Club.

Given their lofty price tag - between $1 500 and $5 000 or more - the petite dogs have been targeted in recent years by criminals hoping to sell the dogs to people interested in owning the "it" dog.

"Smaller breeds are more appealing for theft, and French bulldogs are wildly popular right now," Brandi Hunter, vice president of public relations and communications at the American Kennel Club, told CNN. "The demand for the breed is higher than the supply so they are often a more targeted breed."

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