HAWTHORNE (CBSLA.com) — A missing K-9 unit stolen from a Beverly Hills-based bodyguard company Monday was found in the South Bay, not far from where it disappeared last month.
“Bear”, a black and tan German shepherd service dog, was reported stolen on June 19 from West 118th Street and Birch Avenue in Hawthorne, according to Richard Davis of The Bodyguard Group.
“Five days later, a witness came forward and said she’d seen flyers and said that a gentleman . . . was seen tying a rope around Bear’s neck and dragging him down the street forcibly,” owner Chris Herzog told KNX 1070.
Herzog contact the man, a former gang member, who denied having the highly trained animal.
“We finally gave up trying to keep this quiet and because we didn’t want someone to realize how valuable he was, easily worth $40,000 with all of his training, . . . we went to the news,” Herzog said.
A $10,000 reward was offered for Bear’s safe return through the media on Monday morning.
A suspicious tip led Davis to Bear who had been held in the backyard of a home on 82nd Street in Hawthorne.
“They didn’t know my name, did not know my dog’s name . . . . They knew nothing but ‘$10,000 and bring me my money!'” he said.
Bear had been beaten and was taken to a veterinarian to treat a broken leg.
“His leg is badly injured in multiple places. We had to clear dried blood out his mouth, ears and nose. He can’t walk,” Herzog added.
A certified service work dog, Bear volunteers at local hospitals and performs tricks for U.S. veterans and sick children.
It was unclear if any arrests were made in connection with the case. The investigating is ongoing.
Any attempt to sell a certified service work dog is a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.