Fayetteville woman searches for missing therapy dog

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Missing therapy dog Sydney.

Ciara Fillyaw has experienced the seizures for more than five years. Every time the 26-year-old is headed into an epileptic seizure, she says it's her therapy dog Sydney that keeps her safe.

"Whenever something is about to happen, then she starts yapping, you know," Fillyaw said. "(She) lets someone know something is about to happen."

Now Fillyaw is desperately looking for Sydney, a 1-year-old, 5-pound Chihuahua. She went missing on Monday afternoon along the family's neighborhood street, Windermere Drive.

Fillyaw, who is three months pregnant, says she was at a doctor's appointment when her friend called from the neighborhood. He said Sydney had gotten loose from a leash he'd made to walk her, and the dog took off in the woods, opposite the direction of Cliffdale Road. Sydney doesn't have a chip, and Fillyaw had taken her collar off over the weekend when the dog started breathing irregularly and was admitted to a vet for a check-up. She'd never replaced the collar, and the friend took Sydney for a walk with a leash he'd rigged up himself.

"We need her," Fillyaw cried, sitting beside her mother Nicole Story. "I need her. The baby needs her."

Fillyaw and Sydney have been together since February. She united with the rescue dog a week after losing her first therapy dog to an electrical house fire.

Fillyaw, who lives with several family members, said the dogs are able to sense her panic when she's about to have a seizure. They alert others in the house and soothe her.

"It's like having someone there that you trust with you at all times," she cried. "They're loyal, unconditional love....and I was really, really depressed after the fire and I wouldn't eat anything. She gave me light again."

Missing dog posters and notices have been posted in the newspaper, on social media and on local animal advocacy websites. Sydney also has an obvious eye infection which might help with identification.

If you've seen Sydney, contact Fillyaw at fillyawciara@gmail.com.

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