Three Women in a Minivan Stole This Bear Dog

Three Women in a Minivan Stole This Bear Dog Outdoor Life

Three Women Stole Bear Hound Because It Was “Forced” to Hunt

A family from Rural Retreat, Virginia, offers a $1,000 reward for information on a missing bear hound taken by three women in a maroon van with Florida license plates. Rocky Deel and his 11-year-old son Charlie had collected their dogs after an unsuccessful day of bear hunting in Speedwell near Hale Lake when they realized their blue English coonhound, Ringo, was missing. They received a call from a family friend and fellow hunter.

“He said [Ringo] was on Route 21,” Rocky tells Outdoor Life. “By the time we get down off the mountain and get to where he was at, we can’t find the dog but we’re still picking up the signal from the collar. Well, we end up finding the collar in the ditch.”

The hunter who had spoken with the women promised to drive Ringo into cell phone service and call the Deels, but they never heard from him. The Deels suspect the women took Ringo because they thought he was being forced to hunt in a neglectful home.

The red minivan that took Ringo was seen at a grocery store in Speedwell earlier that day, Rocky says. Gail Deel / Facebook

Meanwhile, the Deels are devastated—especially Charlie.

Three Women in a Minivan Stole This Bear Dog Outdoor Life

“This broke his heart,” Rocky says. “He loves the dogs. He would help me feed them, but now he can’t without Ringo. It just doesn’t feel right.”

Bear hunting with hounds is legal in Virginia and other states. It’s controversial, however, and in Vermont, for example, bear hounds and their owners have been attacked by anti-hunting activists in the past. Rocky, however, has never had conflicts over the practice.

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“Around here, everybody hunts. It’s a hunting community,” Deel says. “[The other hunter] did say [the women] were going on about how they think hunting is cruel and that we make these dogs hunt. So I don’t know if they thought I was being cruel to the dog, but these dogs are bred for this. You don’t make them hunt.”

These women likely didn’t consider the legal consequences of their actions. Stealing a dog in Virginia is a Class 5 felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, removing a GPS collar from a dog is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which could result in another year in jail or a $2,500 fine. Interference with lawful hunting is a Class 3 misdemeanor, which might add an additional $500 fine.

The Deels created a Facebook page to gather information on Ringo’s location. They have also filed police reports, contacted law enforcement in multiple counties, and reached out to every dog rescue and shelter in the area.

“I’ve been searching for him every day from daylight to dark,” Rocky says. “That’s what I’m still doing right now. I’m trying to find the van or hoping they let him out somewhere. With the reward, I hope somebody will speak up.”