SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- A family is desperately seeking help finding their missing dog.
Arend Dittmer's dog was stolen on Friday. But the dog isn't just an ordinary family pet.
"The dog's name is Buddy. He is a little bit older than a year. He is a mix of a cavalier and a poodle. He is really adorable, very energetic. Very friendly," said Arend Dittmer, Buddy's dog owner
On Friday, Dittmer walked Buddy to the bank in downtown San Rafael. Buddy is not a service dog, so he couldn't take him inside.
He tied him to the flag pole in front of the banks big windows. But when he came out 10 minutes later... Buddy was gone.
"I was in a bit of a panic. I talked to everybody around here. And one gentleman here, actually witnessed two women that had play with the dog and then took the dog and just took off with the dog. They just ran away," he said.
Dittmer is working with the bank and police - hoping surveillance footage will help identified the women who allegedly took the dog. but he says... there is more to the story.
Buddy is also a therapy dog for his wife's nonprofit called Opening the World.
"He has a therapeutic function for the young adults who have been exposed to a lot of trauma that my wife works with. It is really not just a loss for us as a family, but also the community as a whole," he said.
Dittmer says he is still surprised that Buddy was stolen in from a busy downtown plaza where so many people are out walking around.
"And apparently, what I learned from other people, that this really is a thing. Stealing dogs and selling them is apparently a real underground market for this," he said.
And he may be right.
According to national statistics, almost 2 million dogs are stolen each in year in the U.S. Data shows that some will pretend to have found the dog - and try to collect a reward.
Others - knowing the emotional attachment people have with their pets - can use it to collect a big ransom.
Legal experts call it low risk - high reward. Low risk of getting caught... big reward in selling a stolen dog.
Dittmer says they bought buddy from a pet store for $2,000. Some breeds are even more expensive. So a potential dog napper can turn a big profit.
Dittmer has been posting signs around town. Hoping buddy will come home.
"Please bring the dog back. If you return safe and healthy, there will be no questions asked. Please return the dog," he said.
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