Update: The family told FOX40 Thursday Sloan, Neeko's therapy dog, was found in Stockton near South American and East 6th streets. The Stockton Police Department says officers dropped Sloan off at a rescue, where Cynthia Niswonger will be picking the dog up.
STOCKTON -- A quick stop for a bite to eat in Stockton turned into heartbreak for a visiting family.
Cynthia Niswonger, her 12-year-old autistic son, Neeko, and friend, Jaclyn Scherff, were on a road trip back home to San Diego when Niswonger says their family dog was stolen.
“Whoever took the car, I don’t judge and I don’t care. Please, please, please just bring the dog back,” Niswonger said.
The family says they made what was supposed to be a quick stop at a McDonald's on Charter Way in Stockton Sunday afternoon. They left Neeko's therapy dog, Sloan, in the car with the air conditioning on.
“Cynthia was checking every now and then just to make sure everything was OK outside," Scherff explained.
Niswonger had the key fob but that didn’t stop a man from breaking in.
"And by the time we came back out, we were in time to see a man driving away with our car," Niswonger told FOX40.
“Starting chasing him and I heard her yelling, ‘Just leave the dog! Leave the dog!” Scherff said.
Niswonger says the man ignored her and Sloan disappeared with him, leaving Neeko, whose speech is limited, to worry.
“Feeding, caring, comforting, it allows him more independence and it allows him connection that sometimes he cannot get with people,” Niswonger said.
With the help of the Stockton community, the family searched the streets for hours.
“That’s all we can do for right now. We have to get, unfortunately, started back home,” Niswonger said.
Monday, the car was found on South American and East 8th streets, a little over a mile away from the McDonald's. Sloan was still missing.
All they could do was hope their pack would be whole once again.
"I will come back in a second to get my dog, so please help us find Sloan," Niswonger said.
The family also hopes Neeko’s iPad will be found. He had important software that helps him with his speech on the device.
The Stockton Police Department is investigating. If you have any information, please call them.