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Dog stolen from Vancouver panhandler found

Last Updated Dec 7, 2018 at 9:12 am PST

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – After a week of searching, it looks like Mishah, the chihuahua mix taken from a man outside Church’s Chicken in East Vancouver, has been found.

The dog had been taken from a well-known East Vancouver panhandler Michael Lorimer, who left the dog alone for just a few minutes when it was stolen from outside Church’s Chicken near East Hastings and Nanaimo.

Garrett Ruesen says he spotted the dog in Vancouver’s Gastown on Thursday. He says he’s relieved to return the dog to its owner.

“I think it’s a pretty heartless act that someone would steal somebody’s dog right before Christmas, especially someone who’s disabled and in need,” he tells NEWS 1130. “Me and my fiance just felt really bad about this whole situation because we have two dogs ourselves.”

He was also relieved the dog was brought back to its owner because, he says, it was being mistreated by the person who had stolen it.

Ruesen says he was concerned when he saw a man rough-handling a dog in a baby carrier, and decided to follow him to see what was happening. Ruesen says he had seen reports of the stolen dog, and thought it may be the same one.

“When I passed him to look and see what he was doing, I was like, ‘that’s the dog from the picture,'” he says. He says he got in touch with Kyrin Litvisko, the organizer of a campaign to find the dog, before he said anything, “I didn’t want to spook him or have him run off or anything like that.”

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It was the second time he had seen the dog. He says he saw the same man  on Sunday, and posted about it on Facebook. He was given a number to call if he saw the dog again, and today he did just that.

“(Litvisko) told me to see if I could stay close or try to see if I could identify the dog, and he was going to head down,” he says. “But the guy kind of started taking off, so I literally followed him for almost an hour through Gastown, until we got into an alley way behind Water Street, a pretty dark alley way, where the guy stopped.”

That’s when the man began picking up the dog and throwing it against the wall, he said. He called the police, who told him not to intervene, because the man could be dangerous.

Several groups, including the a representative of the East Vancouver Church’s Chicken, had offered rewards for the safe return of the dog. Ruesen said, at the time, he wasn’t aware of the reward, but he will be grateful for the money ahead of the holidays.

“Maybe I’ll buy my dogs something and treat them nice,” he said, laughing.

After the dog was reported missing, campaigns sprung up across the Vancouver area aiming to help Lorimer locate his companion. Lorimer had said he can’t live without the shy dog and was hoping someone would return her home safe.