Stolen service dog: Veteran with PTSD needs help finding Pomeranian

Reward offered for canine's safe return

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor, Erik Sandoval - Reporter

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - A local veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome is hoping that with some help from the public, he'll be reunited with his stolen service dog.

"My life is better because I have them," Joseph Hanson said. "It allows me to function in public."

Officials from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office said the 67-year-old Vietnam veteran was at Old Town in Kissimmee with his two Pomeranian service dogs, Star and Kira, on Saturday when a woman came up to him and started an argument with him, while another woman came up behind him and unleashed Kira.

"I see the dog is gone, and then I start panicking," he said. "I looked in the popcorn place. They seen all this happen. I look in the general store, and they'd seen it happen."

Kira is 21 years old and weighs 6 pounds. Hanson said she's hard of hearing and slightly blind.

Hanson told deputies he never even saw the second woman sneak up behind him and it was only through surveillance video that he learned what happened.

"I'm looking at Star, and we're looking at each other, and if you could read a dog's eyes -- and I believe I can read her eyes -- she was trying to say, 'I wanna cry.'"

Deputies are asking for the public's help in finding the canine and identifying the women in the surveillance video.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Osceola County Sheriff's Office at 407-348-2222 or Crimeline at 800-423-8477, which is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to a felony arrest.

Hanson said he's also offering his own $500 reward for any information that leads to Kira being found and the suspect being convicted.

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