BUSHWICK — Lily, the pit bull that was snatched from outside a Bushwick supermarket late Monday night, is back home safe and sound, thanks to a sharp-eyed volunteer at an East New York animal shelter, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.
"(The volunteer) said she had been on the lookout for Lily," said elated owner Lauren Richeson, 25, recalling the phone call she got late Thursday afternoon from an Animal Care & Control volunteer who had seen Lily's picture on DNAinfo.com New York and social media. "It could have easily been just another lost dog."
Lily was stolen from outside Tradewise supermarket on Broadway around 11 p.m. Monday night, after Richeson stepped inside for a moment to buy dog food, leaving her beloved pet tied up near the grocery store's security guard.
Fearing her "baby" would end up as a "bait dog" in Brooklyn's dog fighting scene before police could find the man seen dragging her away, Richeson launched a full court press on Facebook and Twitter and wallpapered the neighborhood with signs offering a reward for her safe return. She and her boyfriend Jing Jue Zhang prowled the streets, visiting parks popular with pit bull owners, as well as animal shelters and bodegas — anywhere someone might have spotted her.
Lily was no stranger to the dog fighting world — before coming into Richeson's care, she had been used to breed vicious killers for the ring. She was rescued and rehabilitated by Ring Dog Rescue, a Virginia-based shelter that helped treat the dogs recovered from football player Michael Vick's infamous dog fighting operation in 2007.
"We've gotten bait dogs before that we were able to rehabilitate," said Karen Taylor, a foster coordinator from Ring Dog Rescue. "But we've taken others that were literally on death's door."
Taylor said it's not uncommon for thieves to seek out pit bulls like Lily to fight or breed. But thanks in part to her owner's tireless efforts, Lily was surrendered to the animal shelter in East New York, where she was said to have been wandering along Linden Boulevard on Thursday afternoon.
"What everybody is speculating is that whoever took her realized that she was fixed and that someone was seriously hunting for that dog and that they wouldn't have a very good job trading her or selling her," Richeson said.
Now, the grateful pup is just waiting for her welcome home bath.
"Lily's our baby," Zhang said. "We're both so relieved."