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An Alabama man has been reunited with his four-legged best friend after his car was hijacked.
Phillip Lewis of Cullman County was held at gunpoint August 28 while pumping gas at Dodge City’s Chevron gas station.
Speaking to Fox News Digital over the phone as he recounted what happened, Lewis said he was forced to hand over his keys to the gang of robbers, including a woman – who then drove away in his vehicle.
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“She said, ‘I don’t play,’ and pointed the gun at my head,” he said, referring to the person he was interacting with during the incident.
“And at that point I gave her the keys.”
When the perpetrators jumped out, Lewis found his five-year-old shih tzu poodle mix, Little Dude, still in the car.
“So I yelled, ‘Wait! Let me get my dog!’” he said.
“But she ran away.”
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“She had the jump on me, so I feel like there wasn’t much I could have done.”
Lewis immediately took to Facebook to spread the word about the incident and asked the public to keep an eye out for Little Dude.
He also got involved with animal rescue and charities Two by Two Rescue and Croonin’ for Critters – who donated for the $2,000 reward offered for the dog’s safe return.
Two weeks later, on September 11, 2022, Lewis received a tip from an anonymous source that a few days earlier a neighbor had come home with a dog that looked exactly like Little Dude.
“I was 99 percent sure it was my dog,” he said.
After Lewis shared the tip with investigators, the Cullman County and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Departments teamed up to find the dog –– and reunited him with Lewis.
“My first thought was that the robber probably liked it and wanted to keep it,” he laughed.
“He’s a super sweet dog.”
Ultimately, the great “power of social media” brought the Alabama-bred duo back together, which Lewis says wouldn’t have happened without all the “extra eyes” on the case.
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Celebrating Little Dude’s return, Lewis said the dog is “so excited” to finally be home.
“His little tail just wobbled,” he said.
“He saw his other adopted brother — I have another dog named Jack Jack — and they played and played and played.”
Lewis had rescued Little Dude as a young pup after the animal wandered onto his property with no sign of a previous owner.
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“He was in really bad shape,” he said. “He was all matted.”
After nursing the dog back to health, Lewis said he and Little Dude have been “best friends ever since.”
“God sent him to me that day,” he said.
“He stole my heart when we met.”
Lewis, who suffers from adult-onset asthma, said Little Dude once saved his life.
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“There was one night before I was diagnosed that I was hyperventilating and passed out — and he licked me until I could wake up and call for help,” he said.
Lewis is currently enrolled in the mechatronics program at Wallace State Community College and said he plans to “get on with life” alongside his “little adventure buddy.”
The perpetrators of the car theft have not yet been caught, but Lewis said they are facing a “list of charges”.
Police recovered the car but are still working on the case. There are many unanswered questions including how and when Little Dude was released or escaped from the carjackers.
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Lewis said he hopes “that investigators can find out who did this and get them off the streets before they do it again,” he said.