Back in November, a Milwaukee dog mom’s worst nightmare became a reality.
Jenna Hayes’ “babies,” dogs Frankie and Stella, were stolen from their southside home.
Now, both Frenchies are back safely under Hayes’ roof — and another pup has joined their pack.
“It’s pure bliss,” said Hayes, a makeup artist. “I’m just so happy and thankful.”
When Hayes walked into her home the morning of Nov. 23, she noticed that her kitchen drawers and dog gate were open. Then panic set in.
Frankie and Stella had been taken.
“I felt like I couldn’t breathe and was sobbing,” Hayes previously told the Journal Sentinel. “I feel like it was almost like blacking out. I couldn’t think. I was shaking.”
After calling police, Hayes took to social media to start spreading the word. After receiving tips via Facebook, Hayes was reunited with Frankie on Thanksgiving.
But Stella remained missing. That is, until last week.
How Hayes was reunited with Stella
Hayes believed this was a targeted incident since Frenchies are a popular, expensive breed. She said she assumed the dogs were stolen to be sold.
A ring camera from a nearby residence captured footage of two people looking around Hayes’ home and through her windows multiple times the night before the dogs were taken, she said.
To get Stella’s story and picture in front of more people, Hayes launched a “Bring Stella Home” Facebook page, ran Facebook ads and put up physical flyers across the city.
“I felt a little bit more powerful when I was making efforts to find her,” Hayes said.
On Jan. 4, a Hartland teenager reached out to Hayes and said he and his dad had purchased a dog, Hayes said. The teen came across Hayes’ Facebook and thought the dog they bought might be Stella.
After police determined the dog was indeed Stella, Hayes went to the District 6 police station to be reunited with her fur baby.
“She just bolted to me,” Hayes said. “It was just really sweet. It was really special.”
“We would like to thank the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office and other assisting agencies for their assistance on bringing Stella home,” the Milwaukee Police Department said.
Milwaukee Police are still investigating the incident, and as of Jan. 9, no arrests had been made.
Expanding the family from one dog to three
Hayes thought it would be a long time before she would be ready for another dog after the one she grew up with, Sophie, was put down in 2021.
“I was absolutely devastated because she was my best friend,” Hayes said. “We got her when I was 13 so she had been through all of my major life events with me.”
About two months later, she found herself doing makeup for a bride who had two French bulldogs with her.
“They were just so sweet,” Hayes said. “I had always loved the breed, and something in me told me it was time.”
When Hayes got home, it only took her about 15 minutes to fall in love with one she found online, Frankie.
“I saw her birthdate and it was the date I had Sophie put to sleep,” Hayes said. “I’m a firm believer in signs and I felt like it was Sophie’s way of sending me my new best friend.”
Stella, who’s from the same breeder as Frankie, joined their family this year — to fill the home with more love and to keep Frankie company while Hayes does wedding makeup, her specialty.
On New Year’s Day, just days before Stella was found, Hayes adopted another Frenchie: A 6-month-old named Chloe.
“I was just like, ‘You know, she might need us as much as we need her,'” Hayes said. “She’s the sweetest thing.”
Since Stella’s return, Hayes and her dogs have been “soaking each other in,” hanging out, running around, playing outside and with toys.
“It kind of felt surreal,” Hayes said. “I’m still getting used to the fact that she’s home. … Just so happy and so relieved that she’s safe.”