Stolen service dog returned to owner after WHNT News 19 report

Northeast Alabama

JACKSON COUNTY, Ala.- Thursday is National Love Your Pet day. One Jackson County woman is holding her boxer/English bulldog mix a little tighter after her safe return from being stolen last week.

“She’s not my pet, she’s my best friend, she takes care of me,” said Amanda Rackow. Lilly has been Rackow’s service dog ever since she was born.

“My legs tend to get weak because of the autoimmune disease that I have and she’s able to help me get upstairs and walk on the beach. She can calm my anxiety in a moment,” explained Rackow who suffers from panic attacks and sarcoidosis.

But for almost a week, Lilly was missing.

Rackow told WHNT News 19, last Sunday, she let Lilly and her other dog, Diesel, into the backyard for a bathroom break. About 15 minutes later, she checked on them and they were both gone. She said the back fence that was never left open, was open.

“Diesel come home early in the morning and he was shaking and I could tell something was wrong and he didn’t have Lilly with him, said Rackow.

Rackow posted on Facebook about her missing fur baby.

Several days later, a WHNT News 19 report led to her safe return.

“It was around 11:30 after the news had aired when my phone, my Facebook just started blowing up from people that had seen her on channel 19,” said Rackow.

Police said Lilly had been stolen by Jasen Howard. Howard was caught Feb. 13, 2020 after a witness saw him taking a puppy into the woods.

When Howard left, the witness went into the woods and found the puppy hanging by a rope from a tree.

The puppy now named Valentine was saved. She is now being fostered by the witness who rescued her.

“Even though little Valentine had to go through the worst day of her life to make it the best day of mine, I feel like everything has a purpose and the fact everything was okay and she was able to come home was a miracle,” said Rackow.

Rackow told WHNT News 19 there have been dozens of other dogs stolen within 10 miles of her Jackson County home. Jackson County Sheriff’s officials said the thefts have not been reported to animal control.

“Regardless of if they’re selling them or it’s a dog fight ring, these people need to know, it’s not going to be tolerated,” said Rackow.

Rackow created the Lilly’s Angels Facebook page for other residents to post about lost and/or found dogs. She encourages dog owners to be vigilant and watchful.

Howard is charged with second-degree theft in addition to the animal cruelty charge.

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