PLEASANTON -- Holly, a 5-year-old pug, stares with her brow raised and her eyes wide into a camera. Her paws are tucked under her chin, and a red bow peeks out behind her right shoulder.
The adorable pug in the photograph looks slightly worried but not as worried as her owner, 15-year-old Cynthia Castronovo, who discovered her family's home had been burglarized and her precious pup missing on Monday morning.
Upon finding that her family's sliding glass door had been smashed in the back of the house and electronics, jewelry and other valuables stolen, Castronovo said her "best friend" was also gone.
"I can't get through my classes without thinking about it," she said. "Time is running out, and I am losing more faith. But I don't want to give up. Not at all."
Sgt. Kurt Schlehuber of the Pleasanton Police Department said evidence points to a dognapping and not a situation where Holly the pug just wandered out of the home.
He said it is very unusual to hear of a dognapping in Pleasanton. In fact, he said he could not remember the last time the police department took a stolen dog report.
"Who would do something like this?" he said. "Who would take the family dog?"
For Jeff Castronovo, Cynthia's father, the situation can only be described as "heartbreaking."
Jeff Castronovo said his family had closely followed the case of Meeko, a six-month old Yorki-Shih Tzu mix, that was stolen in a burglary of the South San Jose home on Oct. 1. That well-publicized case had a happy ending when Meeko was found in Los Banos and returned three days later to that family's 10-year-old daughter.
"We're hoping for the same thing," he said.
He said Holly, who was so named because she was a Christmas present for his daughters five years ago, is a friendly, affectionate dog who does not just wander away.
Jeff Castronovo said that while Holly does not have any special markings or a microchip, she is obedient and if you say "squirrel," she will charge out into the grass.
"I just can't believe people would do this," he said. "Violating our house is one thing, but taking our dog is absolutely awful. (Cynthia) is devastated."
Castronovo said she and her old sister, Jessica, have been calling animal shelters every day in hopes that somehow Holly has been found.
"I keep thinking about 'what if,'" she said. "What if my dog had been at my mom's house (in Livermore) or what if I had been home? You can replace everything else they took, but you cannot replace my dog."
A $4,000 reward has been offered for the dog's return. Anyone with information regarding these incidents is encouraged to call the Pleasanton Police Department at 925-931-5100.
Contact Katie Nelson at 925-847-2164 or follow her at Twitter.com/katienelson210.
Our home was burglarized on Monday and the most valuable possession the thieves took was our family dog, Holly. Aside from the trauma of the robbery itself, the worst is the loss of our beloved family member. A very generous person has already offered a substantial reward and combined with our family and others is now at $4,000. If anyone else would like to contribute we would be thankful, and also for your prayers.
We are hoping the increased publicity, for which we are thankful to all the news organizations, combined with the reward offer can increase the chances of Holly's safe return and possibly lead to the apprehension of thieves so no other family has to suffer what we have been going through.
I have attached a few pictures here (wish I had more but the thieves stole our all our computers and camera) also if by chance if you should see Holly to please contact the Pleasanton Police Department at 925-931-5143.
Thank you so much.