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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -
A speech therapist is calling on the community to help find her missing therapy dog that she used to help disabled children and senior citizens.
Tamara Van Dam said she has had to answer some tough questions from her students over the last three weeks, “Where is Baxter?”
These are questions Van Dam has been asking herself. Her dog Baxter is a therapy dog at the Edison School District and Delano District Skilled Nursing facility.
On December 22, Van Dam said that she and Baxter just got home from Delano. Van Dam said she mistakenly took off Baxter’s collar before he went to play outside with her other dogs. As the dogs played inside the gated yard at her home on Magnolia St. in the La Cresta area, she said Baxter slipped out.
"A neighbor saw somebody pick him up in front of my house. A car stopped and a little girl got out of the back seat and picked him up and put him in the car,” Van Dam said.
Van Dam said she instantly hit the streets looking for the white Schnauzer. She posted and handed out flyers, made a Facebook page and Twitter account.
“It’s been a 24-hour job trying to find him and bring him home,” Van Dam said tearfully.
Van Dam said Baxter has an under bite, but that’s not the only thing that makes him unique. Baxter is not only man’s best friend; Van Dam said he is everybody’s best friend.
"He has the perfect temperament for working with kids and older people because he just loves to be hugged, he loves to be petted, he loves attention and he'll go up to anybody,” she said.
Van Dam said she has seen a difference in her students and patients since Baxter has been gone.
"Their faces used to light up because maybe that's the only thing they can do is pet the dog because of a stroke or maybe the only thing they can do is hug him and smile and show some sort of communication,” she said.
A reward is being offered for Baxter’s return. But for now, Van Dam has this plea to whoever has him.
"I believe that you love him and that you're caring for him, but the kids here and my patients in Delano really miss him,” said Van Dam. “We'll share him with you, and let you visit him, but please let us know he's safe and please return him home."
If you think you’ve seen Baxter you can call Van Dam at 661-871-8444.