DC family searching for therapy dog believed to have been stolen outside Safeway store

- The search continues for a missing therapy dog that was swiped outside a grocery store in Washington D.C. back in January. The dog's owner faces mental and health challenges and said the dog provides companionship and much more.

Even though the dog went missing earlier this year, his family started getting new tips this week.

Sparky was last seen near the glass sliding doors at a Safeway store in the 1600 block of Maryland Avenue in Northeast D.C. His owner was inside, but believes the grocery store's surveillance cameras may have captured the dog thief.

She said Sparky was stolen even though someone was reportedly supposed to be watching the dog.

Sparky is described as a miniature schnauzer with a brown, black and white coat. He is well known in his Northeast D.C. neighborhood for playing catch.

His owner, who reportedly suffers from depression and stress disorders, said the incident has been hurtful and she has been circulating pictures on postcards and flyers in a desperate attempt to get Sparky back home.

Sparky went missing on Jan. 14, but his owner said she started receiving several tips after distributing more pictures of him around the neighborhood.

ANC commissioner Kathy Henderson also sent out an email on Wednesday reminding her constituents about the missing dog.

“Someone that has a therapy dog needs it for health reasons and I'm asking the community to really come together, to really look out for this animal and return it to its rightful owner,” said Henderson. “Small dogs and dogs of all kinds can actually provide really good health benefits for their owners. There is tons of research that petting a dog relieves and lowers blood pressure and reduces anxiety and stress.”

Sparky's family is offering an undisclosed amount as a reward for the dog's safe return. To contact them, you can call 202-520-0185.

The family has contacted D.C. police and they said they are looking into the dog's disappearance.

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