A blind man’s guide dog has been returned to him along with an apology note after its abduction sparked the Chinese public’s outrage, according to state media.
Qiaoqiao, a black Labrador retriever, was reportedly taken from an assistant of Tian Fengbo, her owner of five years, on Monday morning while being taken on a walk in Beijing, reports the BBC. The assistant said the dog was taken by men driving a gray van.
“Qiaoqiao always accompanied me. She was like a friend to me. Now I feel like I’ve lost a close friend,” Tian, who owns a local massage parlor, said to local media after she went missing.
Tian said on Wednesday that Qiaoqiao ran up to him and his family as they set out to search for him. Inside her collar was a letter in a plastic bag that read: “We were wrong… we beg pardon.”
“She is doing well,” Tian told the New York Times. “Last night she was a bit low spirited, but now she’s fine. She’s right beside me, bouncing and vivacious.”
“It seems the suspects in Qiaoqiao’s theft have recognized their error,” the Beijing police said in a statement on their official Weibo account. “We hope they will take a step forward, give themselves up as soon as possible, explain the situation and strive to be treated leniently.”
Area residents where Qiaoqiao was taken told local media there have been a spate of dog thefts there recently. It is common for dogs to be stolen and resold as meat in China.
Qiaqiao’s disappearance attracted widespread attention partly because guide dogs in the country are rare. She is one of only about 100 guide dogs in the country.