A San Francisco woman who went so far as to hire a plane to fly a banner as part of an effort to find her stolen dog has been reunited with her beloved pet following a months-long search.
Emilie Talermo’s blue-eyed miniature Australian Shepherd named Jackson turned up Monday at a shelter in Southern California about four months after he was taken from outside a grocery store in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. The shelter scanned Jackson's identification microchip, discovered Talermo's contact information and initiated the reunion process, which eventually ended hundreds of miles away back in San Francisco with a happy homecoming full of barking, laughter and kisses.
"I realized how important he was to me obviously, but him always being around and hearing his little snarls or his little snores or whatever is happening is so special, and it’s been very quiet in isolation without him," Talermo said after reuniting with her pup early Tuesday morning. "I’ve only had him back for a handful of hours now, but I haven’t slept at all because I’m listening to his little noises and I’m just so happy. Yeah, it makes a difference to have a dog. I feel like everything is brighter again."
The suspected thief has been arrested, according to San Francisco police.
Back in December, Talermo told police she left Jackson tied to a bench outside the grocery store while she went inside. When she returned, Jackson was gone.
Investigators spent the next few months looking into the case in hopes of tracking down the suspect and finding Jackson.
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Talermo remained committed to the search as well. She offered a $7,000 reward "no questions asked," distributed thousands of flyers with her friends and set up a search website, www.bringjacksonhome.com, to spread the word. She had the plane fly a banner displaying the search website over San Francisco and Oakland.
"It’s been through social media, print media, word of mouth, Nextdoor app, every possible thing, Craigslist, anything that we could think of to get word out there," Talermo said.
A critical break in the case happened when Jackson was spotted in Los Angeles County by community members, police said.
The suspect was eventually identified and an arrest warrant was issued. Nicholas Bravo, a 27-year-old resident of Palmdale, was arrested Friday for felony grand theft, police said. Bravo was already in custody at San Joaquin County Jail on unrelated matters.
On Monday, SFPD’s lead investigator learned that Jackson had been surrendered at Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control’s shelter in Palmdale, police said.
A close family friend scooped Jackson up from the shelter and took him to Santa Monica, where he was picked up by San Francisco police and taken back home to be reunited.
"SFPD has been working very closely with me since the beginning," Talermo said. "They’ve been incredible in working hard on this case."
The shelter didn’t say who dropped Jackson off but whoever had him fed him well because he returned home a little chunkier and doesn’t seem "too traumatized," Talermo said.
The reunion came at the perfect time: Talermo is moving out of San Francisco this weekend and will go home to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Once it’s safe to travel again, she plans to live in Portugal, she said.
Olga R. Rodriguez with the Associated Press contributed to this report.