A French bulldog was returned to its owners Monday morning following an armed robbery in downtown Los Angeles.
Isiah Ramos and Charlee Johnston were walking their beloved pet Meech in the area of Flower Street and Olympic Boulevard when they were confronted by the armed robbers at around 11:40 a.m. in broad daylight.
Ramos said he heard a car door open behind him and turned to see two men walking towards him.
“When I turned around, I saw a guy coming from the back seat and a guy from the passenger seat, and I see they both had guns,” he said.
The robbers, armed with semi-automatic handguns, grabbed the dog and fled southbound on Flower Street in a black Infiniti vehicle, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“He’s like a kid to us. We love him very much,” Ramos said. “Seeing him being dragged away was so heartbreaking for me.”
Ramos quickly snapped photos of the suspect’s vehicle, clearly captured the license plate and then called the police.
But he didn’t stop there.
The dog’s owner took to social media for help, joining as many local online groups as possible and posting photos of the getaway vehicle, the mugger and Meech.
He also shared flyers with a $5,000 reward to get Meech back.
“It spread like wildfire. Everyone was very helpful and shared every post,” Ramos said.
A woman called the couple Tuesday morning and said she had found her puppy on Slauson Avenue in south Los Angeles.
After checking his microchip to make sure it was him, the couple were finally reunited with their pet.
But they were shaken after the armed robbery.
“We just don’t feel safe in our own environment,” Ramos told KTLA. “We can’t even walk our dogs around our block without fear of being shot.”
French bulldogs can fetch thousands of dollars and are increasingly being targeted by thieves, according to the American Kennel Club, which has warned of a rise in pet thefts.
“These dogs cost somewhere between $3,500 and $5,000,” said law enforcement expert Bruce Thomas, who also warned that “designer dognapping” is on the rise.
One of the most publicized incidents targeting the breed is the violent robbery of Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs in Hollywood earlier this year. The star’s dog walker was shot dead during the incident.
High-quality, smaller-breed dogs that are easier to get hold of are generally more likely to be stolen, experts say.
“It happens everywhere, but you don’t think it can happen to you until it happens,” Ramos said.
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