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Debbie Campbell said her emotional support dog, Brody, wandered out of her house in San Lorenzo on Feb. 3. Her family launched an all-hands-on-deck effort to find him -- including posting all over social media -- but no luck. Brody had vanished.
The family had almost entirely given up hope when they received a phone call late last week from Tijuana. The man on the other end was Benjamin Gonzalez, who told them he believed he had Brody.
"'He has a tattoo. Can you show us a picture of his tattoo?'" Debbie said she asked Gonzalez. "And the minute he did I knew it was my dog. He had his tattoo."
It's unclear how Brody ended up in Mexico, but Gonzalez said he purchased Brody three weeks ago in downtown Tijuana and had no idea he was a stolen dog.
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He said a man was selling him on the street for $2,000. Gonzalez ended up purchasing him for $1,000.
It wasn't until Gonzalez's family in the Bay Area saw photos of Brody that the pieces started to come together.
"The family said, 'Wait a minute, that looks a lot like the dog we've been seeing on Facebook. You might want to check,'" Debbie's daughter Aubra explained.
Indeed, it was.
RELATED: Why French bulldogs are such frequent targets for thieves
Gonzalez said everything now makes sense. He could tell Brody was sad and depressed, and in a way that he could relate.
"I'm deported myself, and you know I'm out here by myself, so we could relate," Gonzalez said. "He doesn't have family here...I don't have family here, I'm out here by myself, so you know I was like, man, if I can return him I'm going to do the right thing."
Gonzalez, 37, said he was deported from the U.S. two years ago and now lives alone in Tijuana.
He had lived in the East Bay since he was a baby and all his family still live there.
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"He's from the Bay. I'm from the Bay. It was just weird," Gonzalez said of Brody. "I guess he was just meant to go back."
Within 24 hours of Gonzalez calling the Campbells, Debbie's son was on his way down to San Diego. He picked up Brody, who is now safely and happily back in San Lorenzo.
While it's still unknown how Brody ended up in Mexico, the Campbells believe he was intentionally snatched up by someone hoping to resell him.
While it's still unknown how Brody ended up in Mexico, the Campbells believe he was intentionally snatched up by someone hoping to resell him. French Bulldogs continue to be targeted for their popularity/price tag.— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) March 1, 2021
"We couldn't be luckier to be honest," the family said ❤️ (9/9) pic.twitter.com/u68bYCtPPv
French Bulldogs have increasingly become targets for criminals due to their popularity and expensive price tag.
Last week, Lady Gaga's dog walker was shot and two of her French Bulldogs stolen in Los Angeles.
In January, Sarah Vorhaus had her French Bulldog, Chloe, violently stolen while on a walk Russian Hill. Sadly, Chloe is still missing.
"It's heartbreaking Chloe hasn't been found," Aubra said. "We couldn't be luckier to be honest."
She described Gonazlez as having "a heart of gold."
The Campbells compensated Gonzalez for what he paid for Brody, but Gonzalez declined any other reward.
"When he video called us to show us the dog, that took my breath away," Debbie added, through tears. "It's a blessing that that man called, because otherwise there's no way we could have gotten him back."