OAKLAND, Calif. - A disabled Navy veteran is pleading for the public's help after a thief stole his car with his service dog in the backseat in Oakland.
Bella, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, was sitting in a carrier when someone jumped into Mark Lipton's car late Sunday night near 22nd Avenue and International Boulevard in Oakland's San Antonio neighborhood.
Lipton is heartbroken.
"I'm a veteran with PTSD, and this service animal is everything for me," said Lipton, 29, bursting into tears. "I just want her back."
Lipton had gotten out of his car to open a gate outside his home. That's when someone jumped into his car and took off - with Bella in a carrier in the back seat.
Lipton gave chase.
"Banging on the windshield, banging on the hood and screaming at him at the top of my lungs and freaking out," Lipton recalled.
He even jumped onto the hood and ended up getting clipped by his own car.
But there was nothing he could do. Bella, his lifeline to help cope on a day-to-day basis, was gone.
"She just keeps me f—level, every single aspect," he said. "I mean, good day, bad day, doesn't matter. Everything in between."
Bella is a rescue dog he got in San Jose. Lipton says they have a unique bond.
"She's able to read my body language, I'm able to read her body language. We have a connection that's indescribable," Lipton said.
Lipton has posted pictures of Bella online. He's called animal shelters. He's pleading for anyone with information on her whereabouts to come forward.
"She's my heart and soul, and I don't f— care about the car at this point. Car can be replaced. She can't be replaced," Lipton said.
It's unclear whether the car thief realized Bella was in the back. Lipton hopes she wasn't just abandoned. He said it's possible someone else may have her now and not realize she was stolen.
"Please give me my dog back, because she's not yours, and you know in your heart that it's not your dog," he said.
Lipton is offering a $1,500 reward. Anyone with information should contact the Oakland Police Department.