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Disabled veteran heartbroken after service puppy stolen, asks for safe return

Disabled veteran heartbroken after theft of service puppy, asks for safe return
Disabled veteran heartbroken after theft of service puppy, asks for safe return
Q13 / Facebook

On the eve of Independence Day, a local disabled veteran feels that he has lost his independence - and his best friend. On Thursday, July 3, Q13 Fox News reported that the dog of Robert Mitchell of Olympia, Wash., was stolen from his backyard while he slept. The four-month-old pit bull puppy, named Maximus, was in training to become his medical alert service dog.

“He didn’t just run away,” stated Mitchell. “He wouldn’t take his toy and his blanket with him to run away.”

According to Mitchell, his pit bull, Max, was stolen out of his backyard between 4:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on Monday. The yard has a six-foot-tall wooden fence and the gate was still locked.

“I came down at 9 to feed him, and the other dog was here, but he wasn’t,” Mitchell recalled.

Mitchell began an immediate search of the neighborhood, but days later, Max is still missing.

“I never would have imagined in a million years that someone would jump the fence and take him,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell filed a police report and Thurston County sheriff's deputies went door-to-door looking for the missing service dog. For Mitchell, the loss of Max is profound.

“Never had a dog. I feel like … I feel like I let him down," he stated through tears. "He's not just a pet."

Mitchell, who served 20 years in the Army, including the first Gulf War in Iraq and a deployment in Bosnia, suffers from PTSD and life-threatening seizures. He was forced to retire in 2008 because of his seizures and his doctor advised him to get a service dog.

Max was training to be his medical emergency service dog and the pit bull puppy had just begun his training to become a service dog. According to Service Dog Central, it typically takes 18 to 24 months to fully train a service animal.

“Him being gone, it’s just about to kill me,” Mitchell stated sadly.

This disabled veteran said that he won't press charges - he only wants the safe return of his dog.

If you have any information about Max or know of his whereabouts, please call the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office at (360) 786 5500.

In Washington State, there are multiple resources for missing pets, including the Missing Pet Partnership (MPP), Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, the Facebook page Lost & Found Pets Wa State, the Facebook page Help FIND Nahla, and the Facebook pages Stop Pet Theft and Helping Lost Pets.

Many of these resources have successfully returned missing and stolen pets. In 2013, Help FIND Nahla helped track down Nahla the dog, who was taken from Seattle in September of 2012. Lost & Found Pets WA State has also helped hundreds of missing dogs and cats return home.

Helping Lost Pets is a National Pet Registry that sends email and text alerts to members in the area where the pet was lost. It is connected with humane societies, animal shelters, animal rescues, veterinarians, and many other pet businesses and organizations.

The MPP provides lost pet recovery work throughout the Puget Sound area. Their cutting-edge recovery techniques and dedication to finding lost pets are at the heart of their success. The MPP offers phone consultations with tips on how to find missing cats and dogs. To learn more about the Missing Pet Partnership, visit their website here.

Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue has been helping pet owners throughout the greater Seattle area find their missing cats and dogs since 2008. Founder James Branson first volunteered with Missing Pet Partnership before starting Three Retrievers in 2012 and he has experience with more than 2000 missing pet cases. To learn more about them, visit their website here.