‘Leo is what gives this home happiness.’ Owner shares how he reunited with stolen dog

Castillo's car was stolen with Leo inside from the DiBella’s Subs parking lot in Milford around 5 p.m. Thursday. Castillo had run in to pick up a mobile order and kept the car on so Leo would have air conditioning.

News 12 Staff

Aug 8, 2022, 11:12 PM

Updated 714 days ago

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Home is where the dog is for Emanuel Castillo.
“Leo is what gives this home happiness,” Castillo told News 12 Monday, a few days after he was reunited with his beloved two-year-old goldendoodle. “It feels like we came back to life again.”
Castillo's car was stolen with Leo inside from the DiBella’s Subs parking lot in Milford around 5 p.m. Thursday. Castillo had run in to pick up a mobile order and kept the car on so Leo would have air conditioning.
“When I saw that my car was gone, my heart dropped immediately. It was a very scary situation,” Castillo recalled.
His car, a blue 2022 Kia Forte, was recovered Friday morning on Hallock Street in New Haven. Castillo focused on that neighborhood when putting up fliers with Leo’s picture.
“Anybody I saw walking down the street, I got out of the car and gave them the flier and asked them if they could share and be on the lookout,” he said.
Castillo told News 12 he got a call from a woman who wanted to remain anonymous later that day. She said she'd spotted Leo at a home on Cassius Street in New Haven and even texted Castillo a picture of the dog she’d seen.
“When I saw that picture, I felt relief because it was Leo. I knew right away it was him,” Castillo said.
Castillo and his family immediately went to the address the caller gave him, but he said a woman living there claimed she’d paid $500 for Leo and wanted the reward listed on the flier.
“Tensions started building up. There were arguments because it was clear these people did not want to let Leo go without seeing something,” he recounted. Castillo said out of desperation, and to avoid further problems, his family gave her $500 and took Leo back.
“Leo saw my father, and he immediately, you know, went happy. My mother got out of the car crying, and it was a beautiful moment,” Castillo recalled.
He told News 12 he doesn’t believe the woman’s story but wanted to get out of there with Leo as quickly as possible. “There’s something very sketchy, and police are investigating,” he said.
Since coming home, Leo has been quieter and follows the family everywhere, according to Castillo.
“He’s definitely getting spoiled, and we’re definitely taking some safety precautions from now on.” Castillo said he won’t ever leave Leo in a car again, even for 30 seconds. He plans to also get Leo microchipped and is looking into a smart collar with GPS tracking. He called the whole experience “eye-opening.”
“It’s crazy the world we live in. You can’t trust anybody,” Castillo said.
But he added there are some good people out there, like the people who shared Leo’s story on social media and helped look for him.
“I’m very thankful for all the community,” Castillo told News 12. Without them, his house in Seymour wouldn’t be a home.


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