HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A 69-year-old man is thankful after he was reunited with his beloved pug "Guido" after he was stolen, along with his car from a Tampa shopping center more than a month ago.
Donald Murray told ABC Action News' Sarina Fazan "your kindly diligence has saved my life but more importantly... the life of Guido" when he shared the happy news with Sarina.
Murray had been searching for "Guido" since May and was desperate to find his loyal buddy.
"He is my best friend. I fell in love with him the moment I saw him seven years ago. He has not left my side since," said Donald Murray.
Murray, a retired attorney, was on a part-time job, cleaning the parking lot of a commercial center at 15499 N. Dale Mabry Highway on May 29 when the unthinkable happened.
"Guido had a spur in his paw. So, I laid him down in my truck. I was only about 50 yards away. I have done that so many times," said Murray.
Murray noticed a white male with short hair and numerous tattoos. The man said hello and continued walking to where Murray's 1997 black Dodge Stratus was parked.
The man reportedly entered the unlocked Dodge and drove off with the truck with "Guido" still inside.
Murray is warning others that what happened to him could happen to you. He says "I made a dire mistake," by leaving the keys in the car.
The vehicle was recovered the next day, abandoned in St. Pete, but on Monday, June 2, "Guido" was still missing.
"We just thought it was a horrible pet owner, dumping a dog," said Karlene Rowell. "Come home with me, we got plenty of love for you."
Rowell took Guido into her home after investigators say the unknown suspect dumped the pug in the back of a Publix Plaza on North Dale Mabry Highway.
"He kind of stole the show and the house lit up with activity," said Rowell. "And he liked to cuddle, so we definitely need another pug now."
After more than a month away, Murray finally reunited with his beloved pug Tuesday at Rowell's home in Lutz.
"My poor dog, Guido! My sweet boy, yes," said Murray in a video of the emotional reunion, captured by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
"Seeing him with his daddy, it was a happy moment," said Rowell. "If he ever needs a dog sitter, he's got a second family here anytime he needs one."