KINGSBRIDGE, BRONX – After a month of searching, a stolen service dog was returned to his owner.
One Sunday morning, US Army veteran Robert Lebron had taken his 8-month-old dog, Mala, for a walk. They were just returning to his Bronx building from Poe Park when two men attacked Lebron.
“I was attacked from behind,” he said. One man grabbed Lebron while the other man stole Mala and ran off. Physically, Lebron was ultimately fine, but emotionally he was devastated.
“What [Mala] gives me I can’t get from someone else: not a therapist or a family member or my friend,” he said, “It’s unconditional love.”
Lebron served as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan. When he returned home, his service dog, Mala, helped him regain his mental health after years at war.
Earlier this month, Police arrested the man responsible for Mala’s theft. It took the police longer to find Mala. Lebron ended up issuing a public plea for help.
“[If you see something, say something – because I need her and she needs me,” he said.
Just a few days later, Mala was finally found and returned to Lebron. The two are finally together again. Lebron and Mala’s attackers are being prosecuted for theft and assault.
“It was one of the most amazing things that has happened to me in a long time,” he said about getting Mala back. “Because I can take her everywhere to the store, to church, to the hospital – and I do.”