With their unconditional love and often over-the-top energy, dogs have a way of doing more to raise our spirits and help through tough times than even our longest-standing pals. But sometimes, the intensity of the bond we share with our pets can make a bad situation worse. Just ask Rosa Nese.
Rosa shared a friendship with her eight-year-old yellow Labrador that she wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world. Her dog, by all accounts, was one of the brightest lights in her life. So when she was separated from her beloved pooch in a truly bizarre series of events, she felt like a part of herself was missing—and she was willing to go to extreme measures to feel whole again.
In June 2016, lifelong East Boston resident Rosa Nese faced a tremendous tragedy. First, she suffered the sudden loss of her mother. Then, just two days later, her childhood home burned to the ground. Obviously, she was facing tough times. Luckily, she wasn’t alone.
Throughout this seemingly unbearable time in her life, Rosa was supported by her eight-year-old rescued canine, Chief. “He’s basically a lovable yellow Lab. Friendly, he loves everybody and everything,” she said. Her adoration for Chief couldn’t be overstated.
“He rescued me, actually,” Rosa admitted. “I can’t wait to come home from work every night and see him.” Huge photos of Chief even dwarfed pictures of her kids on the refrigerator! But this love only made the events of May 5, 2018, so much more catastrophic.
On that Saturday, Rosa brought Chief with her to visit her mother’s grave. On the way home, she stopped at Saratoga Market on Trident Street (pictured) to buy lottery tickets. She left the car running—with the AC blasting—so Chief could continue napping in his doggy bed.
Rosa was only in the market for six minutes—from 8:45 a.m. to 8:51 a.m.—but when she returned, her 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe was not where she had parked it. In fact, it wasn’t in the parking lot at all!
Rosa’s mind raced, and it didn’t take long for the panic to set in. After all, more than just her car was missing—so was Chief, her beloved dog! “I started screaming ‘Chief, Chief, Chief,'” she said. Unsure what else to do, she called the police.
Rosa’s panic only grew when she considered Chief’s health. The pup had “severe allergies” and even needed prescription dog food. Without someone to give him his special medication, he would be in trouble. She had to find her dog as soon as possible.
When police arrived at the Saratoga Market, they promptly examined the security footage. Luckily, the cameras pointed directly into the parking lot. Surveillance showed a man with a bright green backpack casually opening up Rosa’s running car and hopping in.
But Rosa wasn’t just concerned with seeking justice for this man’s crime. “I want [Chief] found safe,” she said. “That’s all I want. No questions asked… I really don’t care about the car.” If the thief just dropped Chief off at a precinct and kept the car, she’d have been happy.
While authorities searched for the car thief, Rosa and her friends set up headquarters in her apartment—now with an empty dog bed—and searched for any sign of her beloved Labrador retriever.
One of those friends, Sandy Caparella, helped because she understood just how much the dog meant to her friend. Rosa “just couldn’t catch a break, mentally, emotionally, physically,” Sandy said. “Chief was just everything she needed.”
So, Rosa and her friends took action. They began scouring nearby neighborhoods for her white Hyundai Santa Fe, which sported an Italian flag on the rear and would be easy to identify. At first, they didn’t find much…
Strangely, footage from the shop had captured Rosa’s SUV returning to the Saratoga Market a little after 11 p.m. the next day, but the driver never stepped out of the car. After spotting someone outside, he turned around. Worse was that there was no sign of Chief.
Meanwhile, in her apartment, Rosa heard news of a lost dog wandering around the nearby Revere Beach Parkway. Right away, she packed up and began walking along the busy road, hoping that it was her precious pooch. But she couldn’t find her beloved dog anywhere.
John Phelan / Wikimedia
The longer Chief was missing, the more that others heard her story. A local Facebook group called Harbor Hounds posted Chief’s photo on its page and told followers to keep an eye open. Rosa was touched by the community support—but would she ever find her furry friend?
Then, at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 8, a breakthrough came. A security guard at Woodlawn Cemetery named Mario Delloiacono had checked on a car without front and rear license plates; it had been parked on the premises for a very long time.
The rear window of the car was down, and when Mario looked inside, he saw a happy yellow Labrador staring back at him. It was Chief! “We just erupted,” Rosa recalled after she heard the news. “I just fell to the ground when I saw him.”
Missing Dogs Massachusetts / Facebook
That wasn’t all. Later that day, authorities arrested David Brady—caught sneaking around with his green backpack—and charged him with the theft of Rosa’s car. Still, Rosa wasn’t concerned with justice.
Rosa was far more focused with Chief’s safe return home! “He’s just a happy dog, he really is,” she said. “He makes me happy. It’s him and I. I have him back, and I’m going to move on.”
While it wasn’t clear what happened to Chief during his two-day disappearance, it was a fortunate turn of events that Brady left the kidnapped dog with the car when he abandoned it. Thankfully, this turned into a happy ending for everyone!
The bond between Chief and Rosa is truly something special, so it’s great to see the kidnapped Labrador returned to his rightful home.
Share the story of this kidnapped dog with your friends below!