that the tearful reunion of 10-year-old Marissa Mabang and Meeko, her five-month-old shih-tzu-Yorkie mix, happened Thursday after Blanca del Real, who said a woman handed her Meeko after picking the pup up from a Target parking lot in Los Banos, came forward to return the dog.
Meeko had been stolen
during a burglary of the Mabang's San Jose home on Monday. Father Michael Mabang returned home to find his garage door open, his rear sliding glass door shattered and a variety of missing household items. Meeko was also nowhere to be found.
"The first thing, I was calling for the dog," Mabang told the San Jose Mercury News
. "It was one of the worst days of my life."
Distraught Marissa offered up the contents of her piggy bank as a reward for Meeko's safe return. The San Jose police and firefighters' unions, along with city councilman Ash Kalra, pitched in with a $6,000 reward.
"Whatever you do," Marissa pleaded with Meeko's dognappers during a televised press conference, "can you just return him back?"
Marissa's plea was answered on Thursday as del Real came forward with Meeko. Marissa's sister was waiting with the dog when she returned home from school. Police say they believe the puppy's abductors dumped him after seeing his photo all over the internet.
Del Real accepted the $6,000, but not the money from Marissa's piggy bank.
At another tearful press conference, Marissa thanked those who helped reunite her with Meeko.
"Thank you to everybody who made this happen," she said. "I can't believe he is in my arms."
"I am so happy he's back with my family. He's gonna be safe no matter what now," she added.