On Oct. 1, Michael Mabanag, an IT specialist in South San Jose, Calif., arrived at home to find his garage open, his rear sliding-glass door shattered and his cabinets pried apart. It was the second time burglars had targeted his family’s home in less than two years, but this time, in addition to electronics and valuables, the thieves took something harder to replace: a puppy.
Meeko, the Mabanags’ 6-month-old Yorkie–Shih Tzu mix, was missing, the San Jose Mercury News reported. “The first thing, I was calling for the dog,” Mabanag told the paper. “It was one of the worst days of my life. How do you break that to your daughter?”
City councilman Ash Kalra and the city’s firefighter and police unions have helped raise a $6,000 reward for the dog, the Mercury News reported. And Mabanag’s 10-year-old daughter Marissa has donated the money in her piggy bank to find Meeko — a surprise gift to her and her sister after they made the honor roll in June, ABC News reported.
Marissa told the Mercury News that the girls had already formed a bond with Meeko — who she said resembles “Chewbacca from Star Wars” — before the burglary, teaching him how to “speak” and roll over.
“When [the burglars] go and making their quick buck, they don’t realize how much emotions are tied to this. This is just not a dog, it’s not money — it’s my daughter’s heart,” Marie Mabanag, a sixth-grade teacher at Christopher Elementary School, told ABC.
Kalra and council member Nancy Pyle, who represents the Mabanags’ district, held a press conference outside the family’s home earlier this week to discuss the lost dog as well as recent city-council decisions to decrease the area’s police force, ABC reported. During the first half of the year, burglaries in the area increased 53%, according to the Mercury News.
“Word is out on the street, and they know it: that we don’t have enough officers to patrol our streets,” Kalra told ABC. “We don’t even have a burglary unit, we don’t have detectives.”
ABC reported that Meeko has a microchip implanted in her body, which the Mabanags hope will help locate him.
“I just want to know if he is O.K. or not, if he’s hurt or not, that’s it,” Marissa said, addressing the dognappers in an interview with ABC. “It would mean the world to me if you turn him in.”