French bulldog reunited with owners after being stolen at gunpoint in downtown L.A.
About 11:30 a.m. Monday, Isaiah Ramos and Charlee Johnston were walking their 18-month-old French bulldog, Meech, around their downtown Los Angeles apartment complex.
Ramos, 22, said he heard a car door open behind him, turned around and saw two men with guns exit the vehicle.
He knew immediately what would happen next.
“My first instinct was to make sure my girlfriend [Johnston] was alright,” Ramos said. “And they came, pointed the gun at me and told me to give them the dog.
“So that’s what I did,” he said.
“He just looked at me; his face just looked helpless,” Johnston, 20, said. “I can’t get that picture out of my head.”
After the men took the dog, Ramos began taking photos and video of the vehicle.
“I had no worries about them shooting me,” he said. “I know I should have, but my main priority was getting as much information as possible.”
“He called 911 right away,” Johnston said. “He was very calm and just focused on the goal, like, ‘Let’s get this figured out,’” she said. “But I was just in shock. I could not even process it.”
After the dog was taken by men in an SUV, detectives tracked the rental car to a man in Philadelphia, and the dog’s owner flew out to get him.
Despite what had happened, Ramos was certain that he and Johnston would see their dog again, he said. It was only a matter of time.
The couple posted about the incident in several social media forums, sharing the images of the dog thieves’ car that Ramos had taken.
“We know a handful of people here in L.A., but people who we’ve never met and we don’t know, they stepped up. They shared it. They gave us advice,” Johnston said.
On Tuesday, Johnston received a call from a woman in response to the postings who said she saw the gray Frenchie wandering around. The couple, hopeful but cautious, contacted police before meeting the woman at a veterinarian’s office to confirm the dog’s identity through a microchip.
It was Meech.
The dog was shaken, exhausted and “not acting like himself,” but he was unharmed, the couple said.
They said they did not believe that the woman who returned Meech was cause for suspicion.
Johnston and Ramos are happy to have their dog back, but they said the experience has changed their perception of Los Angeles, where they have lived for the last two years.
“It happened in broad daylight, downtown L.A.,” Ramos said. “We don’t feel comfortable walking him downtown anymore. It really impacted us.”
Meech’s abduction was the latest in a string of such thefts in the L.A. area targeting French bulldogs, which can be sold for thousands of dollars on the black market.
In December, two French bulldogs were stolen in separate incidents in Hollywood and West Hollywood.
Last February, Lady Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest by men who took the superstar’s two French bulldogs. The dog walker survived, and the dogs were returned.
“These men don’t care. They’re willing to kill someone over a quick buck,” Ramos said. “That’s just insane.”
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