(SERVICE PETS/GUIDE DOGS) CHINA — A guide dog stolen from a blind man in Beijing was returned Tuesday night, about 35 hours later, with an apology note asking for forgiveness.

The theft of dogs–often to be resold for their meat–is quite common in China, but this dog’s return is particularly significant thanks to the high level of public interest surrounding her disappearance.

Since the 7-year-old Labrador named Qiaoqiao is only about one in 100 seeing eye dogs in the country, her abduction sparked a widespread outcry in China, prompting an unusual amount of media coverage.

While the public’s obsession with social media has proven deadly for animals in the past, this rare reunion is a great example of when sharing on social media can save lives. Read on to learn more about Qiaoqiao’s disappearance as well as her return home. — Global Animal

Masseur Tian Fengbo with his guide dog Qiaoqiao
Tian Fengbo with his guide dog who was recently returned to him. Photo Credit: SCMP Pictures

New York Times, Austin Ramzy

HONG KONG — A blind man’s guide dog that had been stolen in Beijing, drawing an unusual amount of police and media attention, was found Tuesday evening with a note attached asking for forgiveness, its owner said.

Qiaoqiao, a black Labrador retriever that had served as a guide to Tian Fengbo for six years, came running up to Mr. Tian and his family members as they prepared to search for the dog, Mr. Tian said on Wednesday.

Guide dog Qiaoqiao in a recent photo. Photo Credit: Tian Fengbo
Fengbo’s guide dog, a 7-year-old Labrador Retriever named Qiaoqiao, in a recent photo. Photo Credit: Tian Fengbo

“She is doing well,” Mr. Tian said in a telephone interview. “Last night she was a bit low spirited, but now she’s fine. She’s right beside me, bouncing and vivacious.”

Mr. Tian’s relatives did not see who returned Qiaoqiao, he said. A note attached to the dog read, “Please forgive us.”

The Beijing police said on their official Weibo account that the dog’s return was the result of the high level of public interest in the dog’s disappearance. An assistant to Mr. Tian, who operates a massage parlor chain, was walking the dog Monday morning when men in a gray van stole her.

“It seems the suspects in Qiaoqiao’s theft have recognized their error,” said the Beijing police statement.

“We hope they will take a step forward, give themselves up as soon as possible, explain the situation and strive to be treated leniently.”

While the theft of dogs, often to be resold as meat, is a common crime in China, Qiaoqiao’s disappearance prompted an unusual amount of discussion, including detailed coverage in many Beijing newspapers, in part because of her rarity as one of China’s small number of guide dogs. Qiaoqiao is one of only about 10 guide dogs in the Chinese capital and about 100 across the country.

More New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/25/world/asia/china-guide-dog.html