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Upper East Side Family Offers $5,000 Reward for Return of Stolen Dog

A beloved family dog was allegedly stolen in Central Park within sight of his devastated owners’ two young children.

Panda, a nine-year-old black and white Shih Tzu, was reportedly snatched near the East 79th Street entrance at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday by a man described as ‘white and tall.’ The children’s nanny was nearby but did not see the dog being taken.

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The suspect’s description is vague as the only known witnesses were a good samaritan (whose name the nanny did not get, as she was in a panic to find the dog) and the owners’ five-year-old son. It’s not clear if the boy saw the alleged theft or if he just overheard the good samaritan telling his nanny about the incident. 

Panda is owned by the Davidsons, an Upper East Side family who got him as a puppy. He’s microchipped, so if he’s scanned by a veterinarian or other professional, they’ll be able to identify him.

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The nanny, Jonahlyn Guinto, had picked up the children from school and taken them to the park where they joined other families and dog owners on the lawn where dogs are typically taken off leash to run around and play.

“It’s an open field. Everyone congregates there; they let the dogs run off leash. There are a lot of kids and lots of activity,” said family friend Peter Eliopoulos, who is helping in the search for Panda.

Panda was off leash and playing with the five-year-old and his three-year-old sister. After a couple of hours, Ms. Guinto told the children it was time to go home and asked ‘where’s Panda?’ The children didn’t know, and panic quickly set in as the trio searched frantically. That’s when a fellow park-goer approached the nanny and told her a tall white man had taken the dog and walked away.

“The nanny was in a complete panic,” Mr. Eliopoulos said. “A man came up to her and said ‘are you looking for a black and white dog?’ He said ‘I just saw a guy pick up the dog and walk that way.’”

“It’s terrible, we were calling ‘Panda, Panda,’” Ms. Guinto said. “We couldn’t find him. The children were crying, they wanted to take Panda home.”

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The Davidson family is offering a $5,000, no-questions-asked reward for Panda’s safe return. The flyer is circulating on social media and was posted near the alleged dognapping incident. A police report has also been filed.

panda stolen reward

stolen dog panda police report

The police reportedly said they had little to work with, but if they knew what the alleged thief was wearing, they might be able to find relevant security footage from nearby cameras. The family is hoping their one witness will remember and reach back out to the nanny.

Ms. Davidson said going to the park after school with Panda and the nanny is the family’s routine and Wednesday was typical of most afternoons. She said Panda always stays with the children and never wanders from them.

“They are devastated,” said an emotional Ms. Davidson. “They wake up crying. They’re asking me ‘When is Panda going to come home?’ ‘Is Panda going to be ok?’ It’s killing me.”

Referring to the $5,000 reward, Ms. Davidson said they just want Panda back and no questions will be asked. “I just want my baby to come back to us,” she said.

Anyone with any information can call 347-820-3382 or 617-320-5804.


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