BUSHWICK — For a moment, Lauren Richeson couldn't believe her eyes.
It was late Monday night, and Richeson, 25, had popped out of her Bushwick apartment to grab some dog food for her beloved Lily, a sweet-natured black and white pit bull she'd rescued in her home state of Virginia. Naturally, Lily came along for the short trip across Broadway to Tradewise Market near Kosciuszko Street.
But when Richeson came back with the kibble at 11:04 p.m., Lily was gone. Her leash lay empty on the ground.
"I started acting like a crazy lady, running up and down the street," Richeson said. "I have a portrait of her tattooed on my body, I love her that much."
The pain of losing her adoring pooch would be enough without the bleak knowledge that before she came to live with Richeson, Lily had been used to whelp litter after litter of trained killers for dog fighters in Virginia.
"Bushwick has a lot of dog fighting rings as well," Richeson said, straining to hold back tears. "She wouldn't be a fight dog but she could be a bait dog — I'm trying to find her as soon as I can before she gets into that circle."
Richeson said she flagged down a police cruiser and rode up and down Broadway and nearby side streets with officers for more than an hour, calling Lily's name from the window. She told DNAinfo.com New York she spoke with several neighbors who said they saw a short man in a red t-shirt leading a dog that matched Lily's description down the street by her collar.
But the man got away, and by early Tuesday morning Richeson found herself in the police precinct filing a report. She and her friends rode their bikes through the neighborhood until 8 a.m. screaming and scanning the dark streets for her distinctive black and white coat.
On Tuesday, she flyered local bodegas. By Wednesday, she took to Twitter with her desperate plea: help bring Lily home before it's too late.
"I've been blowing up every entity possible," Richeson said. "There's a reward, but no one's called."