A mission to find a local Marine veteran’s missing therapy dog brought more than 25 people out in Chula Vista for a vigil.
The crowd showed up for the event in honor of Nahla, who went missing last Christmas.
Many heard about Nahla and came out even as strangers to support the family looking for their dog.
“Whenever there's a dog missing it pulls at our hearts that a dog has gone away and we're going to find that dog,” said Marianne Ponce, a volunteer.
For Hernando Quandt, Nahla's reassuring smile helped him manage his post-traumatic stress after serving four years in war.
“We really miss her,” said her owner, Hernando. “She is an emotional support animal. I am a veteran of the Marine Corps. We didn't get her for that reason, but we realized what a benefit she was."
Nahla ran away from the couple’s Chula Vista neighborhood on Christmas Eve while the couple was out of town visiting a sick relative.
The dog helps Fernando Quandt cope with his post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in the Marine Corps and without her he’s lost.
“It’s almost like she could sense when I’m kind of in the middle of one of these episodes and she’d lick me or come and make the physical contact she made with me (that) kind of pulled me back,” he said.
The couple hired a well-known pet detective, launched a Facebook page and started tacking up giant posters in town. But after weeks of no luck, they hired a person to bring in specially trained dogs to try and track Nahla’s scent.
The scent brought them to the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The couple asked the government for special clearance to allow Quandt to camp out in hopes of tracking down Nahla.
The Quandts also check in regularly with animal shelters and since Nahla is microchipped they say they’d be notified even if her body was found on the side of a road.
“…She’s not just a pet to us. If she was just a dog to us, we’d just go get another dog,” wife Vivian Quandt said.