Riverside County Animal Services officers were able to reunite 9-year-old Dominic Cumo with his service dog Kipper early Tuesday afternoon. Kipper, a 4-year old pure bred Shih Tzu, had been missing for more than 17 hours. Dominic is one of the youngest people ever to be diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.
Kipper disappeared Monday night around 7:30 p.m. on Avenida Juarez in Cathedral City where Dominic's parents own rental property. He was found a few blocks away near a Stater Bros market where animal service officers believe a man was trying to sell Kipper for $60.00. But Kipper is priceless, he has saved Dominic's life on at least three occasions.
"He tells my parents, he tells my mom and my dad what's wrong. He knows ahead of time," said Dominic Cumo.
Dominic's mother Shawnee Bateman said Kipper knows when her son is in trouble despite the fact he wasn't formerly trained as a service dog.
"He tells us when his lungs are full with secretions and he can't breath. He can even tell us when the machines don't tell us," said Bateman.
Dominic's parents say Kipper signals Dominic needs help by refusing to leave Dominic's side.
The unidentified man that was caught with Kipper cooperated with animal services and will not face charges.