Military vet with PTSD makes plea to car thief to return service dog who was in the stolen vehicle

"If I’m having a panic attack or I’m depressed, she [the dog] helps me with whatever I’m going through."
June 30, 2018 4:01 pm Last Updated: June 30, 2018 4:01 pm

Having your car stolen can leave you feeling helpless and searching for answers. Beyond filling out a police report, there is not much someone can do on their own to try and get their car back.

When Apolonio Munoz’s car was stolen in Anaheim, California, on May 27, getting it back wasn’t his first priority. He was more concerned about what was inside the car.

Marcee, Munoz’s 10-year-old service dog was inside of the car with the air conditioning running.

Munoz is a military veteran and adopted Marcee two years ago to help with his PTSD. The two formed an inseparable bond, and when he realized his precious pup had gone missing, he was devastated.

He’d only intended to pop into the store and make a quick purchase. Marcee’s service dog tags and vest were at home, so he left the car running so she could enjoy the air conditioning.

When he returned, his red Honda Civic coupe was gone, and Marcee along with it. He went through the usual steps with the police, but also made a plea to the carjacker to return his dog.

“At this point, if someone just turns her in somewhere – no questions asked. I just want her home,” Munoz said to ABC.

Munoz worried if he would ever see Marcee again.

Marcee was microchipped, and Munoz busied himself calling shelters and veterinarian’s offices to see if anyone had stopped in with his dog. His car could be easily replaced, but his best friend left a gaping hole in his heart.

“She helps me get up in the morning, she helps me get out the door for work on time, and during the day, she looks out for me,” he said to the Press Telegram. “If I’m having a panic attack or I’m depressed, she helps me with whatever I’m going through.”

The military veteran said he was in denial about his PTSD after returning from a deployment in Baghdad. Marcee helped him confront it, and helps keep him calm and motivated throughout his daily life.

“There’s days I just don’t want to get out of bed to be quite honest. Since I’ve had her, she’s like no, you need to get up and let me out. And when it’s time to go to work, she’s like, OK let’s go,” he said to ABC.

Two days elapsed from the time of the robbery to the phone call Munoz hoped would eventually come.

Marcee was spotted by a person in an Anaheim park who called the police and waited for them to arrive.

It’s unclear how the person who spotted Marcee knew to call the police about her. They waited and kept an eye on the service dog until officers arrived and returned her to Munoz.

“I’m just so relieved,” Munoz said. “I met with the officers at the police station and, sure enough, it was her.”

Happily reunited, but Marcee, who suffers from separation anxiety, hasn’t wanted to leave Munoz’s side since the ordeal.

“She’s a little bit more attached to me right now,” he said. “Marcee and I are truly grateful to everyone for their help and support during this difficult time,” he said.