"Bring back Blackie": Thief snatches autistic boy's dog, family wants him back
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - An act so callous, it left a 6-year-old autistic boy in tears. Someone out there snatched the boy's companion dog right out of the backyard, and now the family is hoping you can help them get him back.
"It kills me inside," said Manuel Espino, the dog's owner. "It really does kill me inside."
And it happened fast. In less than 20 minutes, someone was able to walk down the sidewalk, wiggle open a fence and snatch Blackie. And this Shitzu was no average dog.
Blackie helped 6-year-old Alex cope with Autism, a disorder that impairs how Alex interacts and communicates with others.
"When we brought the dog into his life, he started bringing down that wall," said Espino.
But now Blackie's gone. Alex is eating less, sleeping odd hours and his father says he's just not himself.
"We're starting all over again," said Espino. "It's just a big dramatic change in him. I just wish he would come back into my son's life."
The family has taped fliers across their neighborhood, near Mission and Valencia Roads, hoping for a break. But so far, nothing.
"He loved that dog he really loved that dog," said Espino. "And that dog really did a lot for this family especially for my son."
Experts say it's a huge loss for any autistic child.
"It's got to be so hard for them," says JoAnn Turnbull, the CEO of Handi-Dogs, a local group that helps train service dogs. "The whole family relies on the presence of that dog."
And that's why the family is hoping you can help Alex get his dog back.
"Please just bring him back to my son please," said Espino.
If you've seen the dog or know who snatched him from this backyard, call local law enforcement.
It can take up to a year and a half to train a service dog. It's also very expensive, so if "Blackie" isn't found, Alex's family says it'll be tough to replace their son's lost dog.