A five-year-old girl born with disabilities is all smiles today after being reunited with her beloved service dog Millie, who was stolen two weeks ago from the girl's home in Hutchinson, Kan., the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Examiner reports.
Millie was found on the front porch at around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday morning and, as soon as she was let indoors, she rushed to the bedside of her owner Andrea Taylor and tried to wake the girl up, according to the site.
"Andrea woke up and come out [sic] to the living room and said, 'There her is. It's my Millie,'" the girl's mother, Lana Taylor, told KSN News Kansas.
Andrea Taylor, who was born with cerebral palsy and is visually impaired, received Millie in early March and immediately bonded with the dog. Lana Taylor said that for the first time, her daughter was sleeping soundly through the night without crying.
"She wasn't ever going to be a normal child," Lana Taylor told Fox News after the dog was stolen. "When Millie come along she was able to have a little more independence. Outside, she was able to run with her siblings."
But just three weeks after Millie arrived, a van pulled up in front of the Taylors' home, called the pit bull into the car, and sped away. Andrea was devastated, and the family posted a $450 reward for Millie's safe return.
No one knows who dropped Millie off early Thursday morning without claiming the reward, but Lana Taylor thinks the abductors had attempted to use the pit bull in dog fights.
"She definitely was at least neglected or abused, I'm thinking she was used to fight," Taylor told KSN.
An employee of the Kansas Human Society told Yahoo! that underground dog fight rings are pervasive in Kansas City, as well as other cities throughout Kansas, and that cracking down on the activity is extremely difficult because those involved are meticulous about covering their tracks.
In many cases, Kansas traffickers ferreting dogs into the state apply for Missouri license plates to elude police officers, the woman said.
But authorities are launching more programs aimed at discovering dog fighting rings and prosecuting those involved.
Last year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced plans to create a nationwide database of DNA taken from rescued dogs that could be used to trace dogfighters, KMBC News reported.
The database was announced after a dogfighting investigation in Missouri led authorities to find underground rings across Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa. They were able to rescue over 400 animals, many which were pit bulls, boxers and rottweilers The New York Times reported.