A Brandon woman desperately seeks help finding her dog, a pet that inspired her to walk again after illness put her in a wheelchair.
Leanne Hermary Fortune and her husband Murray say they’re "heartbroken" over their missing dog, which disappeared when someone broke into their SUV.
They ask anyone with information to contact them.
"I don’t know what I’d do without him," Hermary Fortune said.
Hermary Fortune was at the Western Medical Clinic on the 100-block of Sixth Street for an appointment on Monday afternoon when her black poodle, LJ, went missing.
Hermary Fortune left LJ in her locked SUV, which was parked in the lot beside the north side of the clinic. She was inside the clinic for about 90 minutes — much longer than she’d planned.
When she came out, she found the flip-up window in the back of her SUV open, then spotted her headband on the ground beside the driver’s door.
When Hermary Fortune looked inside, she realized the SUV had been ransacked and LJ was missing.
She and her husband believe the dog was either stolen or let out of the SUV sometime between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Valuables such as tools, electronics and a wristwatch were left behind in the SUV.
Besides the poodle, the only thing missing was an iPod dock. The plush dog bed on the front passenger seat, where LJ usually sits, was empty.
Police were alerted, and messages appealing for the dog’s safe return were posted online.
Murray Fortune asked staff at the clinic and nearby bus station if they’d seen anything, and the distraught couple and friends spent Monday evening driving through the area in search of LJ — all with no luck.
To make matters worse, the pooch is supposed to be on antibiotics because he recently had teeth removed, but his medication is at home.
On Tuesday, the couple was preparing posters and planned to check the pound. Meanwhile, they haven’t been able to eat or sleep.
They’re offering a reward for their dog’s safe return — no questions asked.
"I don’t want people to be scared, the person that even did it, I don’t want them to be scared that they’re going to have to deal with the police ... all we want is the dog back," Murray said.
He explained that LJ inspired his wife to walk again after she was diagnosed with spinal meningitis and placed in a wheelchair.
"That little dog was my wife’s inspiration for seven years to walk ... that little dog keeps her walking," he said. "They told her she would never walk again, but determination and this little guy got her going."
Leanne now walks with a cane and leg braces, and Murray said that walking her dog is a routine that keeps his wife mobile.
The six-year-old male, tiny poodle has a tattoo inside one ear (XWC268). The dog is black with a white chin.
Anyone who has seen it, or has information about where it is, can contact Leanne and Murray at 204-724-9477 or 204-764-2741.
» Twitter: @IanHitchen