Disabled man reunited with stolen service dog

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SAN DIEGO - A service dog is back where she belongs thanks to the kindness of strangers and technology.

“My heart started beating again.  She’s my heartbeat,” said Terry Leatherwood, who said his dog Bella was stolen from the backyard of his Hillcrest home.

Witnesses reported seeing a woman in a yellow Honda CRX pull up in front of Leatherwoods house with her son.

“The workers who were working at the house across the street saw her take the dog from her son after he lured it under the security gate. They put it in the car and drove off,” said Leatherwood.

Leatherwood, who suffers from epilepsy, relies on his dog on a daily basis.

“I had to get donations, because I am on disability, just to post the flyers for her,” said Leatherwood.“ Everyone in the whole community up here started posting pictures and it was just a really emotional time for me, because I have had her since she was 7 weeks old.”

After days of searching, an employee of Juniper & Ivy restaurant in Little Italy spotted Bella in the parking lot and turned her into Hairy & Merry’s Dog care.

“You could tell she was missing her family, and we just wanted to make her comfortable and try to reunite them as soon as we could,” said owner Christopher Morgan.

Morgan posted flyers to the web and took care of Bella in the meantime, but it wasn’t until he took Bella to Amici Pet Hospital where the staff scanned her for a microchip and tracked down her owner.

“We were able to able to scan with a microchip reader, look it up on pet microchip.com – we found the manufacturer and they were able to trace down the owner,” said hospital manager Betania Kelly.

“If it hadn’t been for the chip in her and everyone’s help -- I am a recovering alcoholic and if it wasn’t for her --  when I lost her it was like my heart stopped beating, and I am so grateful and thankful God was able to put these people in my life to make this happen,” said Leatherwood.

Leatherwood said police are looking for the car and the woman he believes took his dog.

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