POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) - A Poway family is hoping someone finds their beloved dog after it was stolen during a road trip.
Cynthia Niswonger, her son, and a family friend were traveling back to San Diego from Oregon over the weekend when they drove through the Northern California city of Stockton.
They stopped by a McDonald's at 611 Charter Way, but they had to leave their dog Sloan in the car. They locked the door and kept the car’s air conditioner running.
Sloan is not a certified service dog, but Niswonger said she is a vital comfort animal to her 12-year-old son, Neeko, who has autism. If she were certified, she would have been able to go inside the restaurant with her son, she said.
When they came out of the restaurant, they saw a man drive away in their car and their dog.
"At that time, I was yelling at the man, 'Please leave my dog.' So he knew that the dog was in there. He paused and looked and continued on," Niswonger said. "I was thinking this is unreal and this is my dog. The only thing I was thinking was my dog."
Police recovered the car the next day, but Sloan was nowhere to be found. It appears the thief jammed a sharp object in the door lock to get into the car.
The family has put up fliers all over the area in hopes of getting Sloan back.
"The car was found less than a mile from where it was taken," Niswonger said. “Our belief is that she was dumped somewhere very near in that area."
They would have stayed longer in Stockton, but Neeko needed to get back into town for medication and back to his normal routine.
Neeko's speech device was also taken from the car.
Someone started a GoFundMe page for the family, and it has raised more than $1,000. The money will be used for a reward to help find Sloan.
"We don't want a dime of that money; we want that as an incentive to find Sloan," Niswonger said.