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‘Sheer joy, such relief’: Kobe the stolen dog found safe

Click to play video: 'Toronto woman reunited with dog after taken from park bench' Toronto woman reunited with dog after taken from park bench
WATCH: Stephanie Cooper was ecstatic when she was reunited with her dog, Kobe. As Erica Vella reports, police are asking the man who took the dog to come forward – Apr 23, 2017

Stephanie Cooper couldn’t be more relieved after her missing dog Kobe was found safe and sound Sunday morning after being stolen Wednesday.

Cooper told Global News she tied her dog to a bench outside a McDonald’s restaurant in the Bloor Street East and Sherbourne Street area and when she returned, Kobe was gone.

“I was frantic,” Cooper told Global News. “I thought, first thing, ‘Where is his collar? Where is his leash? Did he get loose?’

“I looked around to see if there was any sign of him being hurt, but when I didn’t see that I knew someone had taken him.”

Surveillance footage proved just that, capturing a man on camera walking away with Kobe.

Cooper said her immediate reaction was “anger,” “sadness” and “guilt.”

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“I just really wanted to find my dog. That’s it. I just wanted to know where he was,” she said.

Cooper immediately began to put up flyers and share her story on social media. She also contacted Toronto police.

Cst. Craig Brister told Global News that around 7 a.m. Sunday morning, a man found a dog, later identified as Kobe, tied to a post in the Selby Street and Sherbourne Street area and called the police. The man had heard about Kobe’s story through social media and seen it on the news.

The dog was healthy and in good spirits and returned home to find all of his favourite treats and toys waiting for him, according to Cooper, who picked him up and immediately cuddled him.

“It was sheer joy, such relief. I had just been so stressed out and depressed about my buddy being away from me.”

Brister said police are still searching for the suspect, who is described as between the ages of 40-50 with a medium build, brown hair in a ponytail. He was wearing an orange shirt, blue jeans and white running shoes at the time of the theft.

“We’re still in the situation where we would like to find the person that did take the dog to get a idea about what the motivation behind their actions were,” he said.

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“Until [we] know the motivation it’s difficult to talk about whether any charges will be laid. But it is being investigated as a theft.”

Brister suggested to owners that if they have to travel to a restaurant or mall to perhaps leave their dogs or pets at home.

It’s an option Cooper is definitely going to take the next time she goes out.

“I won’t be tying him up outside anymore,” she said. “I didn’t think people would have the heart to do that.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-5100 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

Security image of the male suspect wanted in connection with the theft of ‘Kobe’ the dog Wednesday in downtown Toronto. Toronto Police/Handouts. Toronto Police/Handouts

With files from Erica Vella

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