NASHUA — Never mess with a Gate City woman and her 25-pound Shih Tzu.
Amarilys (Lily) Martinez was determined to find her stolen dog after it was snatched from her parked, unlocked vehicle at a local Walgreens store Sunday evening while she ran inside and left the air conditioning running in the vehicle.
“For me, Nikko is family. I was going to do whatever I had to do to get him back,” Martinez said Tuesday.
Although she contacted city police and they started an investigation into the dog theft, Martinez took her plea to Facebook in an attempt to find the person responsible for stealing Nikko, an 11-year-old Shih Tzu mix.
Police on Monday released a photo of the man thought to be responsible, and Martinez then took matters into her own hands. After her message was shared repeatedly on social media, Martinez eventually received a text from someone who knew the man in the photograph, along with his home address.
“I was determined to find him. I didn’t care what happened to me,” she said. “I was not scared. All I wanted to do was find my dog. He is like my child. I am not going to wait.”
Around noon on Tuesday, Martinez arrived at the man’s home in Methuen, Mass. An occupant handed Nikko over to her.
“I can’t even explain how happy I am. Two nights that I didn’t sleep or eat or work — finally he is home,” she said. “Nikko is very attached to me, so being without me shocked him a little bit. He is happy, but something is off and he might be a little traumatized.”
Methuen police have been notified of the incident, and are working with Nashua police toward a resolution. Martinez said she intends to press charges, and she hopes the man will be arrested and punished for stealing her dog. Police were not immediately available to comment.
She is unsure what the man intended to do with the dog, but suspected that he might have been planning to sell him.
“Everybody knows Nikko around here. They know my car, they know me,” said Martinez.
Martinez says she trusts people from Nashua, but in an online post, she says she learned a difficult lesson about leaving her dog in an unlocked vehicle.
“Let me just say that I’m kicking myself ... for it,” she said.