MONTREAL—Devastated by the theft of three expensive puppies from their Laval pet store on Thursday morning, the owners of two nabbed Chihuahuas and a Morkie took matters into their own hands and rescued the dogs.

“At 3 o'clock this morning I had a call from the alarm company about something happening here so I came with my two sister and the first thing I saw was my windows,” said Edith Champigny, who has operated Rouki Frou Frou for 28 years.

The store had been broken into for the third time in a month, leaving shattered glass scattered, four cages broken and the dogs missing. The thieves climbed over iron bars installed after previous thefts.

The two Chihuahuas and Maltese-Yorkshire-Terrier blend were three months old and weighed only a pound each. The retail value of the dogs was $7,000.

“I cried, we cried a lot, it's our family—who would do this?” said Champigny.

Expecting that the thieves would try to sell the dogs, the three owners looked online where they found two young Chihuahuas for sale on Kijiji. When the Laval police said they were too busy to look into the case—a record snowstorm blanketed the area Thursday—the women set up a meeting.

While the women were afraid to meet with the vendors, who they suspected were the same people to have broken into their store only hours earlier, wearing masks and wielding hammers, a former employee volunteered.

When Anabelle Plouffe came face-to-face with the men who stole her dogs, she said the renegade in her came out.

Meeting near the pet store, the volunteer says she was approached by five young men carrying the puppies in a sack. She suspected that the men were not older than 20-years-old.

Recognizing the dogs, her “babies,” the woman told CTV Montreal that she yelled “You’d better run now and run fast!” at the thieves. Run they did.

“Then I just sort of looked at them sideways and said, ‘I'm going to give you two choices right now you can run, or you can run fast and they started running,” said Plouffe.

While the meeting was risky, Plouffe said she had to do it.

“With dogs, it’s sort of like with children, you have 24 hours and the first 24 hours are the most important,” said Plouffe. “I did realize it was sort of risky, and the police did tell me that if I called 911 they would be there, but they couldn't guarantee how fast because of the snowstorm.”

Two dogs were returned, leaving the Morkie unaccounted for—so Plouffe contacted the thieves again.

“I sent him two texts and I told him what to do: Put the dog in a box, with a blanket and come and bring him here.”

Which is exactly what happened, leaving Champigny ecstatic.

“We are very happy, we don't have word to say how happy we are. Sorry if I’m getting emotional,” said Champigny.

The Laval police are looking into the theft.

“It's not treated differently because it's dogs than jewelry. It’s taken seriously and even if the dogs are back the investigation is ongoing,” according Nathalie Lorrain of the Laval police.

The women at Rouki Frou Frou say that if the thieves are ever caught, they hope that they get sentenced to community work in an animal shelter, instead of a harsh punishment or an expensive fine.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story said that four puppies had been stolen; the fourth was found hiding in the store Thursday evening.