Family of young autism patient say service dog was stolen

DISPUTANTA, Va. (WRIC) — An emotional support dog has gone missing from the family of a two-year-old boy who has autism. The family reached out to 8News for help after three days with no sign of their German Shepherd.

2-year old Caiden Estes searched his backyard for his best friend, Saoirse, during a visit from 8News. The 9-month old female dog has been missing since last Thursday when the Estes family was away for a couple of hours.

“We put our dog on the leash, went to the store, and by the time we came home she was gone,” explained Lora Estes, Caiden’s mother.

They do not believe their pet ran away from their home on Prince George Drive.

“The leash wasn’t chewed. There’s no way she could’ve gotten off of it without somebody unhooking it,” Estes told 8News reporter Matthew McClellan.

Neighbors reported seeing a woman leave the property with Saoirse while the animal’s owners were away.

“Once we started asking people, they started telling us stories of someone coming while we were gone and took her,” said Shawn Estes.

Saoirse is a registered emotional service animal. The Estes were having her trained to help Caiden, who has autism.

“He’ll have a meltdown and she’ll come distract him,” his mother said. “They’re like best friends. She tucks him in at night.”

After filing a report with Prince George police, they are now putting up flyers and posting online to get the word out.

“She’s very sweet and very approachable,” Lora Estes said, describing the dog.

If Saoirse is still wearing her collar, it is black and pink with a bow on it.

If you know anything that could help you can call police or crime solvers at 804-733-2777.

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