OAKLEY, Calif. (KGO) --A Bay Area veteran needs help finding her service dog. He is thought to have run away after hearing fireworks when he was with a dog-sitter in Oakley.
Leo the pet dog of an Iraq combat veteran is missing. And he's not just a pet, Leo is the beloved service dog of the veteran who suffers from PTSD.
He went missing July Fourth weekend, probably scared by fireworks in the Delta.
It was a perfect July Fourth weekend. Sunday, Chris Peterson, an Iraq War veteran was on a camping party on Lower Sherman Island.
"Having a barbecue and swimming in the river and fishing and stuff," said Chris Peterson, a friend of Leo's owner.
He was dog sitting Leo, a four-year-old golden chow mix. Leo belongs to Peterson's friend Nicholette Bilbao, a combat veteran who served in the second Iraq War. She suffers from severe PTSD.
Bilbao, who's on a trip to Texas, spoke to ABC7 News by Skype. She says Leo is a therapy dog who makes her life livable and helps her through her anxiety attacks.
"He'll whine at me, like basically saying, 'mom, let's step back. I'm here to ground you. I'm here to keep you in the moment,'" Bilbao said.
Sunday afternoon, Leo suddenly vanished.
"Leo wandered off and we're concerned he may have been spooked by fireworks," Peterson said. As a therapy dog, he's trained to trigger on things that could be a cause for PTSD response.
Peterson and his fiancee searched Sunday until sunset and then again all day Monday, using a boat to comb the waters off Sherman Island.
"We're hoping someone has seen him, or somebody has. Maybe somebody pulled him out of the river into the boat or something," Peterson said.
Bilbao couldn't afford the $2,000 to take an earlier flight. She'll be back Wednesday.
"I just appreciate everybody out there keeping an eye out and let's hope to get Leo home, please," Bilbao said.
It's heartbreaking she says to think that Leo may be out there, scared and lonely.