OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Pain and grief are etched on Rita Warda’s face. She was taking her beloved French bulldog on a nighttime walk through a neighborhood near Oakland’s Lake Merritt, a man approached with a gun and now ‘Dezzie’ was gone.
A reward was offered for the return of her dog on Friday and Warda remains devastated.
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“I was just walking my dog around the neighborhood,” Warda said, tears streaming down her cheek. “I came home from work and just wanted to make sure he was away for a bit. This guy ran behind me and he started stomping and he had a gun in his hand and he took it and he ran away in his car.
Warda was walking Dezzie near Park View Terrace and Montecito Ave. in Oakland just before 8 p.m. The dog is six years old and Ward has had him since he was a puppy.
“His family, his extended family, he is loved by so many people, he is loved in the neighborhood,” she told KPIX 5 on Friday. “If you don’t have him, I don’t care, he needs to be home with his family and you can get something better if you want.”
Oakland police confirmed they were investigating an armed robbery of a pet in the area and the shooter left the area in a vehicle.
“I heard about it and I was nervous and it was one of my fears,” Warda said of recent crimes involving French bulldogs. “I never understood until I had [a dog] but thieves think it’s like stealing a purse, it’s not that at all.
This incident comes two weeks after a French bulldog was violently snatched from its owner in the marina district of San Francisco on New Years Day. The dog was recovered two days later in Sacramento after a person who bought the dog called the police after seeing reports on television.
No arrests were made in this case, although the suspect vehicle was found in San Pablo being driven by a man who was not the suspect in the theft.
“I am mortified. It’s horrible,” said Kathy Jackson of NorCal French Bulldog Rescue. “I don’t even know what to say.”
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Jackson has worked with the breed for 20 years and has noticed a significant increase in public interest. Although they’re an attractive pet, especially as puppies, Jackson says it’s important for people to understand that this man-made breed comes with a lot of responsibility.
They have lifelong medical issues, and families have to prepare for an outlay of $2,000 a year just to help the dog with treatments.
“There in the commercials now. There in TV shows, movies,” she told KPIX 5 on Friday. “So people look at them and think they’re cute, they’ve got big personalities.”
While the market for flying French Bulldogs is already hot due to the breed’s popularity, Jackson says some dogs can have unique colors that only drive up the price.
She knows that some French Bulldogs have sold for several thousand dollars. In these cases, people are raising a father and a daughter, and the inbreeding creates the rare colors in their coats.
Jackson warns that these particular dogs will not meet American Kennel Club standards for the French Bulldog breed, and these potential pets will have more health issues. She hopes people will exercise caution when buying dogs by researching the seller. The rescue has a background check process for anyone who chooses to adopt one of their dogs to ensure they find the right home.
“One of the biggest things right now is that people are really interested in these crazy colors, it’s watered down reproduction,” she said.
Warda says her dog is neutered and not one of those rare breeds, so she hopes Dezzie will be brought home.
“I just want him back, we want him back,” she said.
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Anyone with information about Dezzie is asked to call Warda at 415-323-5278 or Oakland Police at 510-238-3326.