California boy’s therapy dog found after thief steals family’s car

STOCKTON, Calif. – A family heartbroken after their car was stolen – with their beloved therapy dog inside – got some good news Thursday from police in Stockton, California.

Cynthia Niswonger, her 12-year-old son Neeko, who has autism, and friend Jaclyn Scherff, were on a road trip back home to San Diego when Niswonger says their family dog was stolen Sunday afternoon.

“Whoever took the car, I don’t judge and I don’t care," Niswonger told KTXL after it happened. "Please, please, please just bring the dog back."

Sloan after she was found. (Credit: Stockton Police Department)

The family made what was supposed to be a quick stop at a McDonald's on Charter Way in Stockton. They left Neeko's therapy dog, Sloan, in the car with the air conditioning on.

“Cynthia was checking every now and then just to make sure everything was OK outside," Scherff explained.

Niswonger had the key fob but that didn’t stop a man from breaking in.

"And by the time we came back out, we were in time to see a man driving away with our car," Niswonger told KTXL.

“I heard her yelling, ‘Just leave the dog! Leave the dog!” Scherff said.

Niswonger said the man ignored her and Sloan has been missing ever since, leaving Neeko, whose speech is limited, to worry.

“Feeding, caring, comforting, it allows him more independence and it allows him connection that sometimes he cannot get with people,” Niswonger said.

With the help of the Stockton community, the family searched the streets for hours.

Monday, the car was found on South American and East 8th streets, a little over a mile away from the McDonald's. Sloan was still missing.

Then, on Thursday, the family told KTXL that officers found Sloan in Stockton near South American and East 6th streets. The Stockton Police Department said officers dropped Sloan off at a rescue, where Cynthia Niswonger will be picking the dog up.

The family also hopes Neeko’s iPad will be found. He had important software that helps him with his speech on the device.

The Stockton Police Department is investigating. If you have any information, please call them.

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