Florida Vietnam veteran dies before being reunited with stolen service dog

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (WSVN) — A Vietnam War veteran passed away before he was able to be reunited with his beloved stolen service dog.

According to Fox 35, 67-year-old Joseph Hanson was walking last month in Kissimmee with his two Pomeranian service dogs, Kira and Star, when a woman approached him and started an altercation. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office recovered surveillance video that showed the incident, where it appeared the woman purposely distracted him while another woman came up from behind him and stole 21-year-old Kira by unleashing her.

Investigators said Hanson told them he had the dogs to help with his post-traumatic stress disorder, and both of his pets were wearing service dog vests at the time of the theft.

A tip helped deputies locate the stolen dog on Wednesday, and they arrested Jennifer Gotschall and Monique Cosser.

However, according to The Greener Side Haven, an animal sanctuary that would watch the dogs periodically for their owner, Joe had been admitted to the hospital and was unresponsive by the time Kira was found.

The Orlando Sentinel reports Hanson died hours before he was supposed to be reunited with Kira, and he never found out his beloved pet was found.

The sanctuary says Star and Kira are now with a close friend of Hanson’s.

Gotschall and Cosser both face grand theft charges.

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