Venice Mascot Allegedly Dognapped

VENICE (CBS) — A trained dog known that has become a fixture on Venice Beach is missing again.

Owner Johnny Mitchell said “Austin”, a.k.a “Fly N Lion”, was “dognapped” about 5:45 p.m. Dec. 9 on Windward Avenue near Dannys Bar & Grill.

The pooch was last seen chasing a group of teens who were walking two, small white poodles and a small, brown pit bull while headed west on Windward near Pacific Avenue, he said.

He wasn’t on a leash because he’s “a trained dog,” Mitchell said.

“I’m heartbroken,” Mitchell said. “I still have to function, and play music and he’s not here. I have to have faith because we’ve come too far to end this way,” he said.

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Austin was snatched two years ago just before Halloween, but was returned after five days by a “girl and crew” who took him to Orange County, Mitchell said.

Austin is 7 years old and weighs 12 pounds, with blonde sable-colored hair shaved to look like a lion with a Mohawk. He did not have his harness or tags on.

Mitchell said “Austin” is a “local legend and mascot loved by the community.”

He said that the two have distinguished themselves performing on a skateboard, and traveled to the Sundance Film Festival, Winter X Games, Torino Winter Olympics and Times Square, and the dog has been filmed in numerous music videos and tourism shows.

He starred in a movie and, according to Mitchell, has his own band, also called “Fly N Lion”, and “thousands of tourists have had their hearts captured by Austin’s regal charm.”

His latest video cameo was in Slash’s new music video “Back From Cali.”

Austin and Mitchell also appear on a long-standing mural in Venice currently being restored on the west wall of Dannys Bar & Grill facing the beach.

Mitchell said he’ll offer $500 reward for the pooch’s return, no questions asked.

“Just bring him back,” added Mitchell, “He’s my kid, my son.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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