Stolen dog’s return brings tears of joy

May. 16, 2014 @ 06:25 PM

Despair turned to joy for a Hillsborough family whose beloved dog stolen in February was found unharmed Thursday after a three-month search that spanned several counties.

Kevin Bryant fell to his knees and burst into tears when his mother, Deborah Bryant, drove up to their home in a pouring rain Thursday night with Junior, their 18-month-old blue pit bull.

“I laid on the floor and cried,” Kevin said Friday. “I’ve never cried tears of joy before.”

Junior was stolen the morning of Feb. 20 after he jumped Bryants’ fence and was grabbed by a man in an SUV.

Bryant said she ran down the street screaming: “No, no, no! Don’t take my dog.”

That was the last time she saw her beloved Junior until Thursday, when a woman who read about the theft in The Herald-Sun contacted Bryant and said she knew where Junior was. She was snapped photos of him at a house in the Alamance County town of Haw River.

When she showed the pictures to Bryant, she knew it was Junior.

Bryant enlisted the help of a Haw River Police Department investigator, who went to the home and learned that Junior apparently was being kept there by a man who bought him for $350 at a flea market.

The officer ordered the man and his mother to surrender the dog or face charges, then drove Junior back to the police department, where Bryant was waiting.

Tears mingled with raindrops as the two saw each other for the first time in three months.

“He was jumping all over me and licking me, and I was crying,” Deborah Bryant said. “It was raining, but I didn’t care, because we were just so happy.”

She called Kevin and said: “I’ve got your boy!”

Kevin didn’t believe her at first, but then realized she wasn’t joking.

“Thank you, mama! Thank you, mama!” he said.

Bryant got home about 10 p.m., and the family stayed up until 5 a.m. celebrating.

No charges have been filed against the Haw River family, because it wasn’t clear if the buyer knew Junior was stolen, Deborah Bryant said.

As for the reward, Kevin gave the woman who helped find Junior $200, and they hope to give her more.

“She never even asked for money,” Deborah Bryant said. “But we hope to raise more money to give her.”

Bryant said she and Kevin drove Friday to a traffic circle in Hillsborough to let people know the search for Junior was over.

“People got out of their cars to pet Junior and say they had read about him in the newspaper,” she said. “So many people said they read the story.”

Bryant said she’ll keep a closer eye on Junior in the future so he won’t jump their fence again.

Kevin said Junior’s return is like a new beginning.

“It’s been like going through hell and finally getting out,” he said. “All the pain has been washed away.”