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An Alabama man has reunited with his four-legged best friend after his car was hijacked.
Phillip Lewis of Cullman County was held at gunpoint on August 28 while pumping gas at the Chevron gas station in Dodge City.
In a phone call with Fox News Digital as he recounted what happened, Lewis said he was coerced into handing over his keys to the group of thieves, including a woman – who then fled with his vehicle.
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“She said, ‘I’m not playing’ and pointed the gun at my head,” he said, referring to the person he interacted with during the incident.
“And then I handed him the keys.”
As the attackers pulled away, Lewis realized his five-year-old Shih Tzu-poodle mix named Little Dude was still in the car.
“So I yelled, ‘Wait! Let me get my dog! “”, Did he declare.
“But she left.”
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“She jumped on me, so I feel like there was not much I could have done.”
Lewis immediately took to Facebook to publicize the incident, imploring the public to keep an eye out for Little Dude.
He also involved animal rescue and charities Two by Two Rescue and Croonin’ for Critters – who donated to the $2,000 reward offered for the dog’s safe return.
Two weeks later, on September 11, 2022, Lewis received a tip from an unnamed source that a neighbor had come home with a dog days before that looked like Little Dude.
“I was 99% sure it was my dog,” he said.
After Lewis shared the tip with investigators, the Cullman County and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Departments teamed up to locate the dog – and reunited him with Lewis.
“My first thought was that the thief probably liked it and wanted to keep it,” he said with a laugh.
“He’s a super nice dog.”
In the end, the great “power of social media” brought the Alabama-native duo together, which Lewis says wouldn’t have happened without all the “extra eyes” on the case.
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Lewis celebrated Little Dude’s return, saying the dog was “so excited” to finally be home.
“Her little tail just waggled,” he said.
“He saw his other foster brother – I have another dog named Jack Jack – and they played and played and played.”
Lewis had rescued Little Dude as a tiny pup after the animal wandered onto his property with no signs of belonging to previous owners.
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“He was in a very bad state,” he said. “He was all tangled up.”
After grooming the dog, Lewis said he and Little Dude have been “best friends ever since.”
“God sent him to me that day,” he said.
“He stole my heart the day we met.”
Lewis, who suffers from asthma as an adult, said Little Dude once saved his life.
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“There was one night before I was diagnosed that I hyperventilated and passed out – and he licked me until I could wake up and call for help “, did he declare.
Lewis is currently enrolled in the mechatronics program at Wallace State Community College and said he plans to “keep living his life” alongside his “adventure boyfriend.”
The perpetrators of the carjacking have yet to be arrested, but Lewis said they will face a “list of charges”.
The police recovered the car but are still working on the case. There are many unanswered questions, including how and when Little Dude was freed by carjackers or escaped.
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Lewis said he hopes “investigators can find who did this and get them off the streets before they do it again,” he said.