Service dog of boy with autism taken from family’s yard

Posted at 9:57 PM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-07 22:18:39-05

MUSKEGON, Mich.-- A family in Muskegon County is asking for the public's help in finding their beloved service dog who helps out their 11-year old son with autism. They don't believe the dog, Dugan, ran away. Instead, they think he was stolen right from their yard while wearing his service vest.

The past few days have been rough for the Gale family. Their beloved dog Dugan, who they rescued from a 'Death Row' shelter in Texas disappeared from their yard Friday night, something they say he'd never do on his own. Now, they have a message for whoever may have taken him.

"He's a sweet dog," said Tyler Gale. "He's a loving dog."

A sweet and loving dog that Tyler says gives him unconditional affection and support.

"If Tyler has a meltdown, Dugan lays on top of Tyler and licks his face so Tyler doesn't harm himself or anybody else," said Joni Gale, Tyler's mom.

Tyler has autism and says Dugan provides care whenever he has a meltdown. Joni says the past few days without him haven't been easy.

"Tyler's been devastated since then," said Joni Gale. "He hasn't slept. He's had tons of meltdowns over this. He's his best friend, no judgement."

Joni says Dugan was sitting near the fence of their Muskegon home and was left alone for only a few minutes. When Tyler returned to bring him inside, he says he was gone.

"It's like ripping my heart out," said Joni Gale. "I need this dog to come home. He's like one of my kids."

A dog trainer by trade, Joni has a rare bond with the 9-year old pit bull-mastiff mix and the family has one message for whoever may have taken Dugan.

"I need him here for these guys, it's not right," said Joni Gale. "People need to understand what they do to a family when they steal somebody's dog. It's not just a dog."

"Please bring him home," said Tyler Gale.

The Muskegon Police Department is investigating the incident and they are asking anyone with any information to contact them at (231)-724-6750. Joni also says to whoever took Dugan, you can put him back in their yard no questions asked or call them with any information at (231)-683-0273.