NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — A family is offering a $12,000 reward after their French bulldog puppy was stolen at gunpoint outside of a North Hollywood Target in the middle of the day.
"It just brought a lot of pain into me and it really hurt me," said 8-year-old Elani Nguyen.
Elani was brought to tears thinking about what happened while she was out shopping with her family and puppy at the North Hollywood Target on Saturday.
That's when police say two men inside the store saw the family coming in with "Seven," the now 5-month-old French bulldog puppy Elani got for Christmas from her mom.
When Elani's uncle went out to their car with the puppy while the family was checking out, two men followed him out.
"My brother tried to put him in the car to keep him safe but that's when they pulled out the gun on him and they were able to get around to the front of the door and pull him out of the car and basically run off with him," said Elani's mother Jasmin Valencia. "I feel like it's my child, I feel like they took my kid."
Los Angeles Police Department detectives said they're seeing an uptick in the theft of French bulldogs. Just last month also in North Hollywood, brazen thieves ran off with two bulldog pups as the homeowner tried to stop them.
Not long after that, Lady Gaga's dog walker was shot by thieves who stole two of her French bulldogs.
"They're so funny looking they're cute and they're very pricey. And because they're so pricey, people want them," said Barbara, owner of Francoeur French Bulldogs.
Barbara, who doesn't want to use her last name, said there's a big demand for Frenchies and says they're expensive because they are difficult to breed.
"They don't always get pregnant when you mate them, and you pay a huge stud fee, sometimes it's $4,000 to 5,000 to do artificial insemination for them to get pregnant. And then when they're ready to have the puppies, you do a C-section. All of that costs a lot of money."
Elani says Seven is priceless. She had this message for the people who took him, "Please give him back, I just want my baby back."
"I'm just hoping that if he gets to the right people, that they'll do the right thing," her mother said.
On Thursday, the LAPD released security footage of the two suspects.
The valencia family is offering the $12,000 reward for Seven's safe return, no questions asked.
If you have seven or have any information about his whereabouts, you're asked to call LAPD's North Hollywood station.
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