LIBERTY - An Idaho couple traveling through Youngstown to Spokane, Wash., has set up shop in the city after they discovered that their 3-year-old English bulldog was stolen from their 2006 Silver Dodge Grand Caravan Tuesday afternoon as they ate at a township restaurant.
Brook and Paul Jillings say they will not leave the area until they have Mabel back safely.
"She is a member of our family," Brook Jillings, 31, said. "She is like our child."
The Jillings were traveling from Williamsport, Pa., to Spokane, on Tuesday when they decided to stop to get something to eat at the Bob Evans on Belmont Avenue.
When the couple, with their 2 year-old daughter went into the restaurant, they left their window slightly cracked, so the sleeping dog could breathe. A short time later, it began to rain.
"I went outside and closed the window," Brook Jillings said. "It was raining so hard the front seat was soaked. I locked the door and went back into the restaurant."
About an later, the couple finished eating and returned to their vehicle.
Paul Jillings carried their daughter, Marley, to the rear of the vehicle to change her. Brook opened the front door.
"I noticed some dog urine on the console," she said. "I was going to give Mabel a hard time, but she was not in the front."
It was then that they noticed the 50-pound brindle and white dog was not in the car.
"She is pretty small for a bulldog," Brook Jillings said. "She is a friendly dog. I think she urinated in the front because she was very angry or very frightened."
They searched around the restaurant and then called the police. The window of the car was not broken, but the rubber around one of the windows was pushed in.
"We figure someone used a hanger to open the door," she said.
It was only after the police arrived that the family noticed that their digital camera, a laptop, a briefcase with some personal papers and other items were taken.
Although they were traveling through the area to get to a job, the Jillings said they are not leaving without their dog.
Mabel has a microchip embedded in her for identification purposes.
"If that dog winds up at a vet clinic, or a pound, or an animal shelter, said Matt Ditchey, Mahoning County Dog Warden, "with the wand going over it, they'll get their return address, and theyll contact the person where that dog was registered, so that could be the ticket home."
The couple purchased Mabel, shortly after she was born, about six months before their daughter was born.
"We wanted to have her before our daughter was born, so she would be trained," Brook said.
A local organization, Canine Crusaders of Mahoning County Dog Pound, has been helping the family to try to find their best friend.
"We are willing to give a reward for Mabel's return," Brook said. "They can keep everything else. We only want Mabel."
The Jillings are posting fliers in and around businesses near Bob Evans and the Days Inn on Belmont Avenue. They also bought a laptop to set up a Facebook page called "Bring Mabel Home," and are offering a reward for any information leading to her safe return.
The couple is staying at the Days Inn on Belmont.
Tribune news partner WYTV 33 contributed to this report.