VENTURA ( — Little Riley is now safe with her adopted family.

But this happy ending almost never happened because last week someone tried to steal her, police say.

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“I dropped everything and booked it out of the store,” Paw Works Worker Kaitlyn Greenelsh said.

Greenelsh was working at Paw Works, a nonprofit animal rescue. With Riley just behind a doggy gate, three people came in and ran out of the store with the 3-month old puppy, she said.

“I was screaming give me back our dogs, give our animals back and she pulled the one out from under her shirt,” Greenelsh said. “She said: ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was yours’ and she started laughing.”

Mall security cameras have pictures of the suspected dog nappers, who had two other dogs with them.

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Since Riley avoided abduction, Paw Works posted the story on their Facebook page, and Gina Daquilla recognized the dog as the one her sons wanted to adopt several days earlier.

“We were thinking about her and then we saw the update on Facebook that she almost got stolen,” Daquilla said.

So the family made a decision.

“If she gets recovered and we find her, then we should hurry up and get her because they might come strike again,” 12-year-old John Zepeda said.

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And so they did. And they are grateful to the worker who saved the newest member of the family.