When Robert Runkle's dog Lola was stolen out of his car in San Francisco's Castro District earlier this month, the loss hit him especially hard.
The 56-year old Runkle has a chronic kidney disease that requires him to undergo six hours of dialysis four times a week. After years of illness, Runkle finally got onto the waiting list for a kidney transplant earlier this year. However, a sudden diagnosis of lymphoma took him off that transplant waiting list and added weekly chemotherapy sessions to his dialysis regimen.
Only a few days after Runkle learned he had cancer, he left Lola, his four-year old Yorkshire Terrier and service dog, in his parked Toyota truck near the intersection of 14th and Castro. He went into Davies Medical Center for treatment came back to find the window smashed and his companion missing.
Runkle was so distraught looking for Lola, he fell and cut his face, necessitating another trip to the hospital. "I thought I was in a bad dream," he told ABC-7 News.
Lola is a state-certified assistance dog who is trained to recognize when Runkle is in physical pain. She reportedly helps his social skills, as well.
"I literally got to know everyone on the street because of Lola," Runkle told the San Francisco Chronicle. "If people didn't acknowledge her, she'd bark until they did."
Runkle's neighbor Tracy Moon is one of many who have rallied to help find Lola. She and other neighbors have been going to door to door looking for anyone who might have seen the break-in. Moon has even gone a step further, offering a $3,000 reward for the dog's return with no questions asked.
"As I am sure you can imagine, this is a very emotional time for [Robert]--for all of us who know him and Lola," Moon told The Huffington Post. "It's just too soon for him to deal with anything other that waiting and hoping she is returned to him."
Moon explained to Bay City News that the $3,000 reward is far above what the dog would sell for on the black market and she's hoping that the no-questions-asked reward policy will make whomever took the dog more likely to come forward.
"Just say you found it at a park and bring it [to San Francisco Animal Care and Control]," she said. "I'd be thrilled if I'm lucky enough to give this money."
The San Francisco Examiner reports that there are several cases of dogs being snatched from inside locked cars in San Francisco each year.
Have you seen Lola? Check out her picture below and contact (415) 609-5593 or firstname.lastname@example.org with information on her whereabouts.