Dog theft leaves family in tears

May. 13, 2014 @ 01:54 PM

It happened so fast.

Deborah Bryant had let her beloved family dog, Junior, into her fenced-in back yard to use the bathroom the morning of Feb. 20.
“I was just standing there, and he jumped the fence,” said Bryant, who lives in Hillsborough.
Bryant thought the 15-month-old blue pit bull would come around to the front of her house, which he usually did. This time would be different, though.
When Bryant opened the front door and didn’t see Junior, she grabbed a leash, put on her shoes and headed outside to look for him.
She saw a neighbor motion for her to come, and Bryant walked a short distance in the direction of N.C. 86 South. That’s when the nightmare unfolded.
“I saw a man in a teal-green SUV drive across the grass median very quickly,” Bryant said. He pulled in a nearby church parking lot where Junior was, snatched him up, threw him into the SUV and took off.
“And I’m running and screaming: ‘No, no, no! Don’t take my dog!’ ’’ Bryant said. “At that point, there was nothing I could do.”
Bryant returned home, got in her car and tried to catch up with the thief, but never found him.
She described the driver as white, in his middle to late 20s, with ash-brown hair that was shaggy in the back.
Junior weighed 75 pounds when he was taken.
“He didn’t look big, but he was muscular,” Bryant, 62, said. “He was friendly, happy. You would always see him smiling. He had a grin on his face all the time. You couldn’t ask for a better dog.”
Junior’s theft has left her 25-year-old son, Kevin, with a heart so badly broken that he plans to move out of state.
“It’s too hard for him to stay here,” Bryant, a disabled former nurse, said. “It’s created so much anxiety and depression that I haven’t been able to do anything but concentrate on trying to find Junior.”
Bryant said her son had an unbreakable bond with his best friend.
“The dog just loved him to death,” she said. “When my son would walk into the house, even though Junior weighed 75 pounds, the dog would run to him and jump into his arms.”
Bryant has spent countless hours posting fliers in Orange and surrounding counties. She visits animal shelters regularly, hoping to see her beloved Junior.
The theft has been reported to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, but no arrest has been made.
Two other dog thefts in the area have made headlines in recent months: The Aug. 27 theft of a Yorkshire terrier from a Forest Hills family in Durham and his eventual return, resulting in the arrest of Troy Arrington, who awaits trial; and the April 2014 theft of a puppy from a Durham police officer’s home. Christopher Reina, 18, was charged, but the dog is still missing.
Police couldn’t provide figures on dog thefts in Durham, but, according to the American Kennel Club, they have increased nationwide. 
Bryant isn’t sure why Junior was stolen, but believes the thief had seen the dog in her back yard before, and was planning to snatch him for possible sale when the opportunity arose. But she’s not out for vengeance.
“All we want is for them to do the right thing and bring Junior back to us, with no questions asked,” she said. “Our house is just not the same anymore.”
Although Bryant is heartbroken, she holds out hope that she and Junior will one day be reunited.
“He’s a special dog,” she said. “If I saw him coming toward me, I would just fall to my knees and thank God, because I love him so much.”

REWARD OFFERED

A $2,000 reward is offered for the return of Junior. Contact Deborah Bryant at 919-824-2329 or the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at 919-644-3050.