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Man Receives Call From Sobbing Stranger Who Stole His Dog - Thinks of an Unusual “Punishment”
man offers to pay for thief's rehab instead of punishing her for stealing his dog
Uplifting News

Man Receives Call From Sobbing Stranger Who Stole His Dog - Thinks of an Unusual “Punishment”

A stolen dog resulted in a sick woman seeking treatment because one man chose compassion over punishment.

*Featured image contains photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

Brayden Morton learned the importance of forgiveness and compassion when he was an addict. When his beloved dog was stolen last year, he had the chance to practice what he learned.


Morton was working in his home office when he heard a strange sound coming from his gated backyard.

He looked out the window to check on his dog Darla, a Chinese Shar-Pei. Darla, who had been on the back deck just minutes before, had now disappeared.

Morton scrambled downstairs to find that his backyard gate was left open. He watched as a truck sped away, his 3-year-old Darla inside. “I immediately started running after them,” Morton said. Before he could catch up, though, “They were gone. I couldn’t believe what had just happened.”

What One Man Did When His Dog Was Stolen From His Home

dog sitting in a dog bed with potted plants around it
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Morton called the police who promised to issue a news release and keep a lookout, but Morton believed he had to do more. “It honestly felt like my world had just come crashing down on me,” he said.

In hopes that spreading information could help him find his dog, Morton shared his story on Facebook. “Please share and help me,” he wrote. “A blue older model Ford truck just pulled up behind my house and took Darla.”

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Morton offered a reward of $6,000 -- $2,000 of which came from a friend -- to anyone who could return Darla safely or provide information regarding her whereabouts. “This is my dog and I love her. This isn’t stealing a bike out of my garage; this is much more serious,” Morton said.

His post went viral after it was shared more than 30,000 times. The following morning, his inbox was filled with messages. “I had something like 497 messages,” Morton said. “I was getting leads from all across the world. It was crazy.”

Why a Stranger Returned the Dog She Had Stolen

woman in a ponytail crying on the couch
Photo by Timur Weber

The next day, Morton received a call from a crying woman. He knew this woman must have Darla.

“She was just crying on the other end. She couldn’t even talk,” said Morton. “I said to her, ‘Listen, I’ve messed up a lot in my life, and I’ve been forgiven for a lot of things I did. I’m not mad at you.’"

The woman, who refused to comment and asked that her name not be published, met with Morton at a gas station.

Morton promised her that he would bring the reward money to their meeting. Pulling up to the gas station, Morton saw a 20-year-old holding Darla on a leash. “It was one of the most overwhelming feelings I’ve ever felt. I was elated,” he said.

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Even after she handed Darla back over to her owner, the woman continued to be inconsolable. “She is just a kid, and she was standing there bawling. I went and gave her a hug, and I said, ‘It’s all right,’" Morton said. “I could tell that she was a fentanyl addict, like me.”

Morton, who had struggled with drug addiction since his teen years, had been sober for over six years. “I was in out and of treatment 16 times. I was the hopeless addict who was never supposed to get better,” Morton said. A near-death experience finally inspired him to get clean.

After a successful stint in rehab, he began volunteering at the rehab center he attended and in 2018, he became a clinical drug and alcohol interventionist. Since then, he has dedicated his life to helping addicts get sober, going as far as to create a free service called Find the Right Rehab, which helps people find the right treatment center for them.

Going to treatment was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it’s also the most enlightening experience I’ve ever had.

Brayden Morton

Morton shared all of this with the woman, and she told him her own story. She had been living on the streets for several years, paying for her drug addiction with money she earned from sex work.

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She explained that two other people helped her steal Darla so they could sell her online; however, when she saw Morton’s Facebook post, “she couldn’t live with herself,” Morton recalled. “She told me she’s a dog lover.”

After a half hour conversation, Morton took out the reward money. “I know if I give you this money, I’m going to hear about you dead in the next day or two,” he said, believing that she’d use the money to buy more drugs.

Instead of handing her the money, he decided to give it to her another way. “I’m going to take this money, and I’m going use it to pay for you to go to treatment. I’m going to give you the opportunity to help yourself,” he told her.

Why One Dog Owner Chose Compassion Over Anger

man hugging a woman in a green field
Photo by HONG SON

Morton, a 35-year-old who lived alone in British Columbia with his two dogs Darla and Louis, was about to spend $6,000 on the woman who stole one of his only companions.

After the woman agreed, Morton called Susan Hogarth, the executive director of Westminster House Society, a nonprofit organization and addiction recovery program for women and girls.

“He contacted me and asked me if I would be willing to take her into residential treatment,” Hogarth said. “I immediately agreed.”

The 90-day treatment, which costs $22,000, is only partly covered by the government. The rest comes from donations and money like Morton’s.

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“His heart is truly in it,” Hogarth said of Morton. “In this whole situation that happened with him and his beloved pet Darla, a normal person would be angry, but his anger just melted off of him as soon as he noted that this girl was so sick.”

Morton explained how he could transform his anger into kindness. He admitted he was inspired to help this struggling woman because he, too, had needed help at one point and received it. “One day, I hope she looks back on this story and it motivates her to help somebody else,” Morton said. “We need to advocate for each other.”

It is difficult to treat someone’s wrongdoing with compassion, but that’s exactly what Morton did. He remembered all of the times people aided him despite his bad behavior and decided to pay it forward.

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