A French bulldog was returned to his owners after an armed robbery in downtown Los Angeles Monday morning.
Isiah Ramos and Charlee Johnston were walking with the beloved pet, Meech, in the area of Flower Street and Olympic Boulevard when they were confronted by the armed robbers around 11:40 a.m., in broad daylight.
Ramos said he heard a car door open behind him and turned around to see two men approaching him.
“When I turned around, I see a guy coming from the back seat and guy coming from the passenger, and I see that they both had guns,” he said.
The robbers, armed with semi automatic handguns, grabbed the dog and fled in a black Infiniti vehicle, going south on Flower Street, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“He’s like a child to us. We love him dearly,” Ramos said. “Seeing him being dragged away was so heartbreaking for me.”
Ramos quickly snapped photos of the suspect‘s vehicle, clearly capturing the license plate, and then called police.
But he didn’t stop there.
The dog owner turned to social media for help, joining as many local online groups as possible and posting photos of the getaway vehicle, the robber and of Meech.
He also shared flyers offering a $5,000 reward to help get Meech back.
“It spread like wildfire. Everyone was being very helpful sharing every post,” Ramos said.
By Tuesday morning, a woman had called the couple saying she found their pup wandering around Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles.
After checking its microchip to make sure it was him, the couple was finally reunited with their pet.
But they were left 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 worrying about being shot.”
French bulldogs can fetch thousands of dollars and have become increasingly targeted by thieves, according to the American Kennel Club, which has warned of a spike in pet thefts.
“These dogs go anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000 dollars,” 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 last year. The star’s dog walker was shot during the incident.
High-value and smaller breed dogs that are easier to grab are generally stolen more often, experts say.
“It’s happening everywhere but you don’t believe it can happen to you until it does,” Ramos said.