For a pet owner, there are few things as frightening as a cat or dog suddenly going missing.
According to the American Humane Association, it is estimated that one out of three pets goes missing at least once in their lifetime. Every year, almost ten million pets are reported lost or stolen. And, even more concerning, only around 23% of these pets are ever reunited with their owners.
But one woman was so determined to beat the odds that she took matters into her own hands.
Jessica Gary owns several dogs, including a beloved Chihuahua mix named Fidel. Even though the little dog is getting on in years and needs daily medication, you wouldn’t know it from his pictures!
In fact, Fidel and his brother Tito are so photogenic that they even have their very own Instagram page.
One of Jessica’s favorite ways to spend some quality time with her pooches is to take them to Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
Jessica and her furry companions particularly enjoy visiting this park on Saturday mornings, where dogs are allowed to run off-lead for a set period of time.
But one morning, the unthinkable happened.
Jessica was walking through the park and Fidel was following closely behind:
“He was just a few feet behind me and I heard a yelp,” she told WABC. “And as soon as I looked behind me he was gone.”
A stranger had snatched her dog in broad daylight.
Jessica immediately took action. She searched the park, but Fidel and the dognapper were long gone.
She knew she had to find him – the idea that she had no idea where he was or if he was safe sent her into complete panic mode. She rushed home, printed dozens of flyers, and put them up all over the city – she was offering $3,000 for his safe return.
She also took to social media, writing that the suspect was “a man in his early 30s with curly blonde hair, approx 6 ft tall and slender.”
Her story gained so much traction that it quickly appeared all over the news. Surely someone had spotted him?
Jessica got in her car and drove all over the streets of Brooklyn to search for Fidel. Meanwhile, her Facebook plea was going viral.
Jessica was distraught and frustrated, but she refused to give up. And it paid off!
Just a day later, Jessica received the crucial tip-off that would finally crack the case.
Someone had spotted a dog that resembled Fidel in the Carrol Gardens neighborhood. Even though it seemed like a long shot, Jessica clutched at the glimmer of hope with both hands.
She and a few friends drove out to where he had possibly been spotted and couldn’t believe their eyes. Sure enough, there was Fidel.
He was being walked by a strange couple – as if he belonged to them.
Source: YouTube/CBS New York
Jessica knew it was now or never. She and her friends jumped out of the car and swooped in to get him back!
With Fidel back in her arms and their mission accomplished, the women dashed back to the car, got inside, and locked all the doors. But the story doesn’t end there.
The man who was walking Fidel chased after them and tried to open the car’s doors.
“When he couldn’t open the car doors, he began hitting the car window with a skateboard,” Jess told CBS New York.
Thankfully, the women were able to get away.
Jess sped straight to the NYPD and told them everything and they confirmed that she’d done nothing wrong.
When CBS News asked Jessica if she “stole the dog back,” Jess said: “We brought Fidel back to his rightful home.”
Jessica believes that Fidel was probably sold on to the couple who were seen walking him, and unfortunately, the dog thief hasn’t been caught.
Jessica is elated to have her dog back, but she has a word of advice for other pet owners: always survey your surroundings and never let your guard down – even if you’re in a familiar space.