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.
Goforth said Coco was always at Harold's side.
"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.
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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.
Since then Goforth says her son has been inconsolable and he doesn't understand why he can't find his best friend.
"He told me last night when he was getting ready to go to bed, he just said 'Coco, come home, please,' like if he said it 'Please, Coco would come back,'" Goforth said. "And of course this is devastating to me because I don't know how to explain it to him."
Goforth 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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