'We just want him back': Family pleads for safe return of dog stolen outside Toronto store

Spencer, a 12-year-old Chihuahua mix, is seen in this undated photo. (Toronto Police Service)

The owners of a 12-year-old Chihuahua mix are asking for help locating their pet that was stolen outside a Toronto store Wednesday morning.

Monica Furman told CP24 that she tied up her dog named Spencer outside a Dollarama store in the area of Dundas Street West and Dovercourt Road around 10 a.m. before going inside to shop with her two-year-old daughter.

"I came out about five, ten minutes later, and my dog was gone," Furman said.

"I don't know the motivation was behind taking him. We just want him back."

On Wednesday evening, Toronto police released an image of the man who they believe took Spencer.

He is described as in his early 30s, unshaven with a medium build.

Police said he was wearing a dark-coloured sweater with the word "Ecko" on the chest, dark-coloured sweatpants, and a black baseball cap with a white decal. He was carrying a black duffel bag.

The dog is described as brown and tan in colour and weighs 27 pounds. He was wearing a black leash with blue paw prints.

"It's a crime of opportunity. And oftentimes, people seize that moment where this pet is left unattended to make good their escape with the animal," Const. Alex Li said.

"As a pet owner, I can understand that it's devastating to them and anyone that's a pet owner."

Furman and her partner Robin Ellwood got Spencer from a shelter more than a decade ago. Elwood described the dog as irreplaceable and "one of a kind."

"He's never been away from us one day in his life," he said. "The bottom line is his part of our family. He's a family member. We need him more than anything."

While Furman regrets leaving Spencer outside, she said the man should have not taken her dog.

"I don't think it's right," she said. "He shouldn't have done that."

Their two children are devastated, the couple said, adding that their five-year-old son cried when he learned about what happened to their pet.

"When he came home from school -- tears in his eyes. He's just as devastated as we are. He's lost his best friend," Ellwood said.

They are appealing to the man who took Spencer to "have it in your heart to return him safe and sound."

Ellwood added, "Drop the dog off. Do what's right. You don't have any business having this dog. He needs us to take care of him. He needs his family, and we need him."

Police are asking anyone with information to contact them at 416-808-1400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).