German shepherd trained to help Long Beach woman with mobility issues stolen from home

A German shepherd trained to help his 65-year-old owner with mobility issues was stolen from his home in Long Beach Saturday afternoon, and his owner is asking for the public’s help in reuniting them.

Lisa Hartouni was inside her Cambodia Town home on Oct. 29 getting a treat for her 6-year-old German shepherd, Jack, following their daily walk, when she heard the gate outside open.

She didn’t question the gate opening at the time, she said, thinking it was her neighbor coming over.

But when she walked back outside to give Jack his treat, he was gone.

She contacted her neighbor to see if Jack was with them, but he wasn’t.

“At that point, I was really kind of freaked out,” Hartouni said.

After all, she said, this was out of the ordinary for Jack, who has never left her side from the moment he first sat on her feet as a 2-month-old puppy looking for a forever home.

From that moment, Hartouni said, Jack has been a “real constant” in her life. Hartouni has mobility issues, and she’s trained Jack to assist her with tasks such as helping her pick things off the floor or even helping her get up when she’s sitting down, she said.

On the day of Jack’s disappearance, a neighbor drove around the neighborhood searching for him, but when it was time for Hartouni to go to bed that night, Jack wasn’t there for the first time in six years.

The next morning, she searched for Jack at the local shelters but had no luck finding him. But shortly after that, her neighbor produced security footage that showed what had happened to Jack, she said.

The video, which was shared online by Hartouni, reveals two men dressed in all black and wearing sunglasses entering her front yard through the home’s driveway.

The men then flee toward a white car as a dog, presumably Jack, runs out behind them.

Jack can be seen steering clear of the suspects and eventually running back into his home before the men go back for him, grab him by his collar, and steer him into a white vehicle.

“My heart just sank,” Hartouni said about watching the video.

That’s when she remembered an encounter with a random man a few weeks ago where he insisted Jack was his friend’s dog.

Hartouni recalled being followed by a car that she said appeared to creep behind her and Jack as they finished their walk.

“It feels like I’ve been watched over the last few weeks,” Hartouni said. “It’s not easy to find where we live.”

Police say a motive for the theft is not known at this time and officers are investigating the incident as a burglary.

Since Jack was taken, Hartouni has been receiving calls from dozens of people reaching out to help bring her “sweet boy” back home.

A group called “Friends of Jack” created a GoFundMe Tuesday to raise money for a reward in hope that it will lead to more information regarding Jack’s whereabouts “or better, bring him back home,” according to the fundraiser. It surpassed the $2,000 goal as of Wednesday.

“Jack belongs here, and whoever took him knows that too,” Hartouni said. “I really think there’s a friend a relative or a neighbor that knows what’s going on and they can hopefully intercept Jack.”

This article was updated with a video of the burglary. 

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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