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Missing therapy dog returned to Waukegan, Illinois family

Woman reunited with therapy dog in Waukegan, Illinois
Woman reunited with therapy dog in Waukegan, Illinois 00:42

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) -- A therapy dog has been returned to a grateful family in Waukegan, nearly a week after the family said the dog was stolen.

The shih-tzu, Bella, is a companion for Doris Hemphill, who suffers from dementia. Late Thursday, Bella was back in Hemphill's arms.

Hemphill Family
Hemphill Family

Earlier this week, Hemphill's daughter, Princess Hemphill, told CBS 2 that Bella had managed to get out of the house when the family was not home. A neighbor who was new to the block found the dog and tried to figure out whom she belonged to—going door to door.

The neighbor came across a man in the neighborhood who falsely claimed to be the owner and gave Bella to him, said Princess Hemphill.

On Thursday, the Hemphills said a woman had called animal control because she had heard about the reward for Bella's return. She said she had asked someone for a light for her cigarette, and that person had offered her a dog.

The Vernon Hills woman said she took Bella because her daughter's dog recently died. She saw CBS 2's story about Bella being stolen and then called the City of Waukegan, met animal control, and asked for the reward money, the family said.

In addition to being the family's pet, Bella is the key companion to Princess Hemphill's 79-year-old mother, Doris. For the past 10 years, Doris Hemphill has suffered from dementia—and today, she can't talk or walk.

Hemphill Family

Bella is the therapy dog who keeps Hemphill's mom calm.

The Hemphills had been offering a $500 reward for Bella's safe return. Princess Hemphill credited Waukegan Ald. Keith Turner with spreading the word about Bella. 

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