LOS ANGELES - A French bulldog who was stolen from his owner in Ladera Heights by a group of masked assailants who physically assaulted the man was returned to an animal shelter Thursday and reunited with his family.
The assailants, however, remained at large.
The 3-year-old dog, named Bruno, was stolen around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday in the 6400 block of Wooster Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Four suspects who wore masks and hooded sweatshirts took the dog and fled in a silver Toyota Camry, the sheriff's department reported.
Stefan Becker told reporters he was taking Bruno for a walk when he was attacked. He was punched in the mouth and kicked several times while down, moments before Bruno was forced into the suspects' vehicle. Becker said he suffered two broken ribs.
"It's sad that it has to happen like this," Becker told KTLA5. "I can relate now to people in (a similar) situation, when you see people on the ground, being kicked at like a piece of dirt. No regard for life, no regard for a human being."
Becker pleaded for the public's help finding the dog, and his wishes were answered Thursday. He told multiple media outlets that he was contacted by an animal shelter, where the microchipped dog had been surrendered. Becker went to the shelter and reclaimed Bruno.
"It's our Bruno. We got him safe and sound," he told the Los Angeles Times.
It was unclear who brought Bruno to the shelter.
Sheriff's officials said no arrests had yet been made in the case. Anyone with information about the crime was urged to call the Sheriff's Information Bureau at 213-229-1700 or the sheriff's Marina del Rey Station at 310-482-6000.
French bulldogs have become a common target of thieves due to their value. In 2021, a man walking singer Lady Gaga's French bulldogs was shot by culprits who made off with two of the animals, who were later recovered.