Kissimmee, FL – The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has turned to the public for help finding a Vietnam veteran’s stolen service dog.
Former U.S. Marine Joseph Hanson, 67, was walking his service dogs, Kira and Star, at Old Town on Oct. 28, when he was abruptly confronted by a woman, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“[She] got in my face like a…[drill instructor] when I was in the Marine Corp and [was] cussing and swearing at me,” Hanson told WFTV.
Surveillance cameras were recording as a second woman – whom Hansen didn’t even see – came up behind him while he was distracted by the altercation, and unleashed his 21-year-old Pomeranian, Kira.
“The victim never saw the second female and he had no idea what happened to the dog,” the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
When investigators reviewed the surveillance footage, they realized that the woman had walked off with the six-pound service dog.
“I didn’t lose her, she was stolen,” Hanson told WFTV. “I can’t believe that someone would do something that low.”
Hanson, who was honorably discharged after serving three years as a Marine in Vietnam, explained he was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“My job in Vietnam was to kill,” he told WFTV.
His service dogs help him to manage his PTSD symptoms.
“When I’m in a tough situation they make me think,” Hanson explained.
He said he and Star have been distraught since their beloved companion was stolen.
“It was like she was telling me she wanted to cry,” he said of Star. “I think I’m pretty good at reading her eyes.”
Hanson said he is extremely worried that Kira may not survive with her captors.
He explained that she is going blind, is hard of hearing, and suffers from other medical issues.
“They’re not gonna know how to handle her,” he said. “She’s an old girl.”
Hanson said he is offering a $500 reward to anyone who provides information that helps to bring Kira home, and said he plans to press charges against the thief.
“We are asking the public’s help in helping us identify this suspect and helping to try to recover Kira and bring her home safely,” the sheriff’s office said in the press release.