Fayetteville mom begs for return of autistic son's dog

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- Dianna Goforth says "Coco," a 4-year-old Pomeranian is more than just a pet to her 47-year-old autistic son Harold Strickland -- Coco is his best friend.

"As soon as we got Coco, that very day, it was like Coco knew Harold was special needs," Goforth said. "She wanted to be there and help him."

She says Coco was always at Harold's side. Anytime they rode to the store, or went on vacation Coco was with Harold.

"It's like he is OK when she is around. He is totally OK. They've got such a sweet bond. When he wakes up she is there. When he goes to bed, she is there. She was just a comfort to him all day," Goforth said.

Coco disappeared Jan. 12, when Goforth let the dog out into the yard. It was a familiar routine.

"She always comes straight back usually within five minutes, never more than 10 minutes," Goforth said. "If it's longer than 10 minutes, I know something is wrong and that day it was."

Goforth said she had noticed a car parked in front of a nearby vacant home, where some people were looking around. She noticed one of the car doors open, and Coco was headed that way. At the time, she didn't suspect anything. When she started searching for Coco, the pup had disappeared.

Goforth and Strickland frantically searched neighborhood streets. Goforth said she filed reports with police and Animal Control and put up reward posters around the neighborhood offering $1,000 "no questions asked" for Coco's safe return.

They still ride neighborhood streets searching and hoping.

At home she says her son stands at the front door looking out.

She says he doesn't understand why his beloved Coco doesn't come home, and why his heart hurts so much.

Goforth begs for Coco's return, for Harold's sake.

"He is lost without her, please bring her back," she said.

She hates to think that someone would intentionally snatch her son's dog, and said getting Coco back means the world to Strickland, who struggles just to say "I want Coco back."

Goforth prays that whoever has Coco is listening.

She said Coco weighs 10 pounds, has bright orange fur and a surgical scar on her right front shoulder.

Anyone with information is asked to call (910) 488-5634.

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