A college student who lost her therapy dog, which helped her cope with anxiety, is asking the public for assistance after concluding the dog was recently stolen in Del Mar.
Whitney Engler hasn't been able to sleep much ever since her Australian Shepherd named Rose went missing on April 16.
"Maybe two or three hours a day," she said. "I keep thinking of places to search for her."
Engler was sitting outside a Del Mar Laundromat with Rose when a man walked up and startled the dog.
"She just bolted away from him into the darkness, behind the buildings with her leash on and everything."
Engler and her boyfriend searched the area around Del Mar Heights Road and Interstate 5 for days. They put up missing dog flyers all over Del Mar and Solana Beach.
They also created a Facebook page asking for help.
On Thursday, nearly a week after Rose went missing, Engler received a call from a woman who saw a flyer. She told Engler she saw Rose the night she disappeared, running down the shoulder on southbound I-5.
"The girl said a car about five cars up stopped in front of my dog, opened the door and my dog jumped in," Engler said.
The witness also said Rose still had on her collar and leash, which would mean the rescuer would only have to look at the identification tag to get Engler's phone number.
But the rescuer hasn't called, and Engler is afraid she will never get Rose back.
"She is a smart dog and well behaved," Engler said. "Maybe the person really likes her.
She's hoping the person who took Rose will call her.
"Please return my dog. I miss her more than anything, and I love her."
Engler is now raising money for a reward in hopes it'll bring her dog home before she leaves for the University of California Davis. She is studying to be a veterinarian.
Anyone with information about Rose is asked to call (858) 210-1089.