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84-year-old Burbank woman ‘lonely’ after pet tortoise stolen

When 84-year-old Marge Lauerman looks out her window in Burbank, her yard is covered in fallen pink hibiscus flowers.

It’s been that way for a couple of weeks, ever since George, her pet tortoise who kept her company while munching on the flowers, was reportedly stolen.

“It’s kind of lonely,” she told Times Community News. “You look out and see the hibiscus on the ground, and they’re all there. They haven’t been eaten.”

The tortoise Lauerman has for decades called George — and still refers to as a “he,” though she recently discovered George was a girl — was last seen by a neighbor on Sept. 19, near Delaware Road and 5th Street. The neighbor reportedly saw someone pick up the tortoise and put it in a dark-colored car.

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When her daughter came over to water the plants the following morning, she noticed George was missing.

Since then, Lauerman has enlisted her granddaughter and her friends to publicize George’s disappearance on social media and through neighborhood fliers, though no leads have come up, so far.

George joined Lauerman’s family more than 50 years ago after one of her husband’s coworkers had to give up the pet in the early 1960s before moving.

“We’ve had it ever since,” Lauerman said. “It’s been in our backyard here on Delaware since 1975.”

Despite losing a beloved pet, Lauerman is grateful for the community support — from strangers and friends alike. When she came home one day, she’d received a phone message from a stranger sending prayers for George’s safe return.

“Lots of people are looking for him,” she said. “I just hope that if somebody does have him, they’re treating him good.”

Anyone with information about the tortoise’s whereabouts is asked to call the Burbank Animal Shelter at (818) 238-3340.

Tchekmedyian writes for Times Community News.

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