A Vietnam veteran spent his Veterans Day and all of Thursday searching for his stolen service dog.
DT Bender, 72, said someone snatched his dog when he left her sitting outside a Claiborne Avenue grocery store.
“I’m so mad right now, just angry and focused on getting her back,” Bender said.
Bender said he stepped into a Carrolton Avenue Robert Fresh Market about 5 p.m. Wednesday and left his service dog, Princess, sitting outside. He said he was inside the store for less than 10 minutes, but Princess was gone.
“Two ladies right there in the handicapped spot said they saw this lady come walk up, pick her up and go right down the sidewalk into the neighborhood,” Bender said.
Bender spent much of Thursday riding around the neighborhood on his bicycle, hoping to find his dog.
The dog was described as a friendly 7-year-old purebred rat terrier with a ferocious bark.
“Two years ago over on Third Street, she caught a burglar that crawled in my bathroom window, and she had him up against the bathtub,” Bender said.
Bender is a disabled Marine veteran, who served in the early 1960s. He was active duty in infantry training.
“I’ve had service dogs since 1983, when I was diagnosed with a hearing problem and a perception problem from that,” Bender said.
Bender has had the service animal for six years, and this is the third time she has been taken. Other than that, the two have been nearly inseparable.
“In February, I had a heart attack, and I was in Touro hospital for 11 days. She stayed in my bed with me for 11 days,” Bender said.
The two are known throughout the city.
Princess can often be seen perched on the back of his bike. Now, he feels lost without her.
“Possibly, this person thought it was a lost dog, considers themself to be a rescuer and may have good intentions, but they have my dog,” Bender said. “My heart is broken. (I) can’t sleep, can’t breathe right.”
Bender went back to the store Thursday afternoon, hoping the woman who took his dog would be back in the area. He is expecting that if anyone sees or has his dog Princess, they’ll be willing to help reunite them.