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Service dog killed in Tarzana hit-run crash

September 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A woman's service dog is dead after being run over by a hit-and-run driver. Now the woman is looking for a replacement, but she says the process could take months.

Sara Erstad-Landis took her miniature pinscher-Chihuahua mix "Phoenix" everywhere.

"The house feels empty, actually. I'm so used to having tippy-toe feet around, and it feels empty without him," Sara said.

Phoenix wasn't only her companion, he was also her service dog. Sara has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder.

"When I would have a seizure and I didn't know how long I was going to have it, they would put him near me and he would help me get out of it, come out of it," said Sara.

But Friday morning was his last.

"I put his leash on and I opened the door too soon, and he just ran," said Sara.

Phoenix ran out into the street with Sara chasing after him, but by the time she got to him he had already been hit, and the driver took off.

"The driver who ran over him didn't stop," said Sara. "I was just wondering if they could come and tell me where they are and why. I've had him for three years, just wondering why they didn't stop and help him, and come contact me if they can, please."

A Good Samaritan did stop to help and took them to a veterinarian, but it was too late.

"She had to stop, I mean, I was sitting in the middle of the street. I wouldn't move until I knew what was going on," said Sara.

The vet cremated the dog, free of charge. Now Phoenix's ashes sit in Sara's living room.

Sara says she is hoping for another service dog.

"I'm trying to get another dog. I'm trying to get on a waiting list. That usually takes about six months, a little bit longer even," said Sara.

If you'd like to help Sara, contact Magi Erstad at (818) 849-0954.


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