A Marine Corps veteran has been reunited with her service dog after her car — with Wrigley the dog inside — was stolen.
Lanasu Whitner and her husband Tim Whitner were moving from Illinois to Florida and were already on the road when they stopped their SUV at an Indianapolis gas station earlier this week.
While the couple were outside their vehicle getting ready to fill it with gas, three suspects came from behind the truck, jumped inside and drove off, according to Lanasu Whitner, 45, and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).
The couple, both former U.S. Marines, turned to local police, who sprung into social media action – posting a request to help find Wrigley on the IMPD’s Facebook page. Police also sent out an informal APB (all-points bulletin) for area law enforcement to be on the lookout for Wrigley.
“Help us out Indianapolis!!” the post reads. “We usually post photos of our own canines, but this little guy is a service dog given by the [Veteran’s Administration] to a Marine Corps Veteran. He is part rhodesian ridgeback and his name is Wrigley,” K-9 unit of IMPD wrote on its official Facebook page searching for more help to find the dog.
The couple has owned Wrigley for the past two and half years. They got him to aid Lanasu in dealing with persistent migraines and seizures.
A day after the car theft, the stolen SUV was recovered — without Wrigley in it.
“It was a stressful couple of days,” Tim Whitner acknowledged in a phone interview.
The local police seemed as excited about Wrigley’s recovery as the Whitners.
“Wrigley has been found!!!” police reported on their Facebook page. “Thank you everyone for your help in locating him. This is why our community and followers are so important!” IMPD wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.
Lanasu Whitner said she is just glad to have her beloved service dog back.
“It is a great story,” she said.
“He’s my service dog. And I can’t tell anybody how happy I am to have him back.”
Two suspects have been arrested, according to an IMPD spokesman, and a third is still being sought. `
The Whitners, who met more than 20 years ago on a military mission, canvassed the area themselves and began hearing of possible sightings of Wrigley.
“We were looking,” Lanasu Whitner told ABC News, and “a neighbor said that they have seen him in several locations, but he was scared, so he would not go to anyone.”
So they tried another tactic – laying down one of their shirts that they knew Wrigley would recognize by smell in an area where he had recently been spotted.
“An officer suggested that we put a few pieces of cloth down, so he will come to that, and it worked.”
It worked. Indianapolis police posted a brief clip of the moment of reunion on their Facebook page.