PHOENIX -- A Valley veteran's vehicle was stolen and the thief also got away with the precious cargo on board: a service dog.
There's no sign of little Ladybug and the owner says he can't forgive himself for leaving her vulnerable when he went into an Auto Zone store. He was just going to be gone five minutes and left the vehicle's engine running.
Jack Steinman is devastated.
"You know you can get another car. I can't get another Ladybug," he said.
Ladybug is Steinman's 2-year-old Poodle mix. She's a certified service dog trained to call 9-1-1 if Jack, who has a heart condition, needs help.
"Never, ever left.. she makes every step I make.. when I go to eat, she's right there.. when we go to Fry's, everybody knows her," he said.
On Monday night, Steinman took Ladybug to an auto parts store near 58th Avenue and Camelback Road. He normally takes her inside, but this trip was just going to be a quick stop, so he left her in the vehicle. His SUV's engine was running with the air conditioner on.
"I had the keys in my pocket right here and I thought I'm safe because it's one of those cars where you gotta push the button, so I thought I was safe. When I come out, the car was gone," said Steinman.
Ladybug is not chipped, but has a collar with Steinman's contact information. Neighbors and friends are out driving around the area, hoping to spot Ladybug or the stolen vehicle, but so far, no luck.
The 76-year-old Navy veteran is a widow and says this small dog made a big difference in his life.
"She has a power to make things a little better than this world I live in now."
Steinman says he was driving a 2008 gold Suzuki Grand Vitara that has military stickers on the back window and handicap license plants. It would make a huge difference to him to get his best friend and companion back.