We've all done it before. When out for a walk with our furry friend we decide to stop into a store, restaurant, you name it. We tie the leash to something secure and go about our business. After all we're just going to be a few minutes, what could possibly go wrong?
That's what Stephanie Cooper thought when she tied her dog Kobe to a bench outside of a McDonald's. She was in and out in less than 20 minutes, but that was long enough for someone to take her dog.
She came outside expecting to see Kobe, but instead there was nothing. Not even a leash or collar, which should have been there if her dog had managed to get loose.
"I was frantic," she told Global News. "I thought 'Did he get loose?'"
With no evidence that Kobe got out on his own Cooper became even more worried. She went back inside to ask a manager for help. There surveillance footage confirmed Cooper's worst fear.
A man, broad shouldered and with a long brown ponytail, was plainly visible approaching Kobe. After a moment or two he undid the knot tying the dog to the bench and walked away with him.
Cooper said she was angry when she saw the footage, then she felt guilty about having left her dog unattended.
"I just really wanted to find my dog. I just wanted to know where he was."
Cooper went home and called the police, but she wasn't content waiting for law enforcement to find her dog. She printed out fliers and began canvassing the neighborhood where Kobe was taken. She also shared her story on social media, pleading for help.
Sunday morning, 3 days after Kobe was abducted, Cooper got a call from police. Kobe had been found.
Someone had seen the fliers Cooper posted and noticed a dog matching Kobe's description, ironically tied to a post outside a store, and called police. Kobe was finally reunited with Cooper after a harrowing 4 days.
"It was sheer joy, such a relief. I had just been so stressed out and depressed," Cooper said.
For his part, Kobe was in fine spirits. He was healthy and happy to be home with his proper owner.
The dognapper may have noticed the police presence after tying Kobe to a post, or perhaps he left him deliberately. In any event, police are still searching for an overweight man with long brown hair.
"We're still in the situation where we would like to find the person that did take the dog," said Cst. Craig Brister.
Although the story had a happy ending, Cooper says she learned a tough lesson.
"I won't be tying him up outside anymore," she said. "I didn't think people would have the heart to do that."