The Oakland Police Department said in a series of tweets the van was stolen early Monday from Fremont with 24 dogs inside until authorities were able to find the vehicle eight hours later in Oakland, located about 25 miles away.
"The van is outfitted to house dogs by the owner," Oakland Police Lt. Bryan Hubbard told KTVU. "All the dogs were alive and appeared to be in good condition. They were just really scared."
The owner of the van told police she was in the middle of a 16-day cross country route, picking up and delivering dogs when she arrived late Sunday at a hotel in Fremont. The van was carrying 24 dogs at the time, including 20 that were recently rescued from Fresno.
The owner, who usually sleeps in the van but said she was exhausted and got a hotel room, checked on the dogs at midnight after leaving the air on before coming back at 3 a.m. to discover the van and the dogs were gone.
Oakland Police said they were able to use the GPS tracker inside the van to find the vehicle eight hours later.
"Our officers were able to ping the van and locate it here and detain two subjects and rescue the animals," Hubbard told KTVU.
Police told the television station the van's owner won't face any charges for leaving the animals unattended for hours because she was within legal rules and took appropriate precautions for the animals.
The dogs recovered in Oakland were taken to the Oakland Animal Shelter, where they will be cared for while the investigation into the stolen vehicle continues. Authorities are investigating whether all the dogs are accounted for and said it's unclear if any of them were sold because some of the dogs' paperwork went missing after the theft.