Pittsburgh police, nonprofit seek dog stolen from man with cancer

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Nearly $900 in reward money has been pledged on behalf of Thor, a missing Siberian Husky that was stolen from a Spring Hill man with cancer.

Thor was stolen Nov. 28 from Mark Boehler, who has stage 3 cancer. Gisele Paris, of Spring Hill-City View, has been charged with stealing the dog, along with resisting arrest and assault of an officer. Police said Ms. Paris kicked one officer in the chest and kicked another officer in the legs when they tried to serve her with an arrest warrant last month.

She got out of Allegheny County Jail Tuesday, and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 24 at 12:30 p.m.

Members of Jamie's Dream Team, a local nonprofit that provides assistance to disabled and terminally ill Pittsburgh residents, picketed outside Ms. Paris' home Tuesday morning, demanding she release Thor. Jamie Holmes, founder of Jamie's Dream Team, said the organization has volunteers scheduled to protest in front of Ms. Paris' home in shifts for the next several days.

"My heart is breaking for him," Ms. Holmes said. "That's his dream to get his dog back, so that's why we're here. Hopefully, she'll surrender Thor today."

Ms. Paris declined comment when she was approached by a reporter on Tuesday.

Animal Friends Humane Officer Kathy Hecker said residents have pledged almost $400 in reward money for Thor. The agency also donated $500 in reward money in exchange for information leading to Thor's return. Ms. Hecker said Thor had a tumor and was preparing to undergo surgery to have it removed when he was taken.

Pittsburgh police Officer Christine Luffey said she has received tips and leads from around the state about Thor's possible whereabouts. Officers are investigating each possible lead, she said.

"I would love to see him receive his dying wish, which is for him to hug his dog one last time," Ms. Luffey said. "I've been saying a prayer for Mark every night."

Before the dog was taken, Ms. Luffey said Ms. Paris called several local animal protection agencies, including Animal Friends and the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, claiming Thor was being abused and was abandoned by his owner. Ms. Luffey said agents went and visited Mr. Boehler's home and found all his needs were being met. The next day Thor went missing.

Anyone with tips about Thor's whereabouts is asked to contact Officer Luffey at 412-488-8425.

Clarece Polke: cpolke@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1889 or on Twitter @clarepolke.

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