How The Lady Gaga Dognapping Saga Finally Ended

Lady Gaga has said that women "love very hard," via Entertainment Tonight. And though she was talking about romantic relationships, we think it could also apply to the love and devotion that Gaga has for her dogs. As any parent to a fur baby knows, it's definitely a special relationship. And Gaga had to face the unthinkable for anyone who loves their dogs as much as she does — two of them were stolen.

On February 26, 2021, Lady Gaga posted to Instagram about a loss to her family: "My beloved dogs Koji and Gustav were taken in Hollywood two nights ago. My heart is sick and I am praying my family will be whole again with an act of kindness. I will pay $500,000 for their safe return." Lady Gaga managed to get her dogs back without having to pay half a million dollars, but it was not a quick nor easy road in either case. The issue of the dognapping ended up before a judge who ruled that Gaga didn't have to pay the $500,000 to the woman who returned her dogs. And it is quite the story as to how things got to that point.

Five people were arrested in the Lady Gaga dognapping

It started on the evening of February 24. Ryan Fischer, Lady Gaga's dogwalker, was walking Asia, Koji, and Gustav, Lady Gaga's three French bulldogs, and things took a tragic turn when Fischer was attacked and shot four times, and Koji and Gustav were stolen. The horrifying incident was caught on film thanks to a nearby home surveillance camera; before he was shot, Fischer tried to fight off his attackers, who were focused on getting the dogs — French bulldogs are worth thousands of dollars — not even knowing they belonged to the famous pop star.

Two days later, Lady Gaga, who was in Italy filming "House of Gucci," posted to Instagram about the $500,000 award for the return of her dogs, and a woman turned in the two dogs at the LAPD Olympic Community Police Station. It would be easy to assume that would be the end of the story, but it turns out that Jennifer McBride, the woman who turned the dogs in, was a part of the scheme to steal them in the first place.

Lady Gaga's dog thieves faced serious charges, and five people were arrested in the shooting and dog theft in April 2021, including McBride. James Howard Jackson, who actually pulled the trigger, Lafayette Haley, and Jaylin White were charged with robbery and attempted murder, and McBride and Harold White — who was father to Jaylin White and in a relationship with McBride — were also taken into custody.

Lady Gaga was sued for not paying the $500,000 promised reward

Lafayette Haley and Jaylin White were sentenced to six and four years in prison, respectively, for their roles in the near-fatal attack on Ryan Fischer and stealing Lady Gaga's dogs.  Gunman James Howard Jackson eventually pleaded no contest to attempted murder, for which he was sentenced to 21 years in prison. In his impact statement to the court at gunman Jackson's sentencing, which he also posted to Instagram, Fischer detailed how the incident changed his life both physically and mentally. He had part of one of his lungs removed, had suicidal thoughts, and had to rebuild his sense of identity.

For her part in the robbery, Jennifer McBride got two years probation after pleading no contest to receiving stolen property in December 2022. And again, you would be forgiven for thinking that would be the end of the whole thing. But in an unexpected twist, McBride went on to file a lawsuit for fraud and breach of contract against Lady Gaga for not paying the half a million in reward money that she promised to the person who returned her dogs. McBride did, in fact, return the dogs, but a judge wasn't having it with McBride's argument that Lady Gaga had broken a contract with her. Considering McBride's no contest plea to receiving stolen goods in 2022, she was, "not entitled to thereafter benefit from their wrongdoing by seeking to enforce the contract," as reported by People.