Savanah Hill, 12, was looking out the window of her Willow Avenue home near midnight recently when a man walked into the family’s back yard and stole the family’s 14-week-old pit bull puppy.

“He was crouching down. He just unhooked her and ran with her,” Savanah Hill said.

John Hill, her father, a dealer at the Seneca Niagara Casino, said the puppy was just starting to adapt to life with the family of four, including Savanah, her sister Lyric, 12, and their mom, Michelle.

“She was a member of our family. This is just like someone stealing our kid,” he said.

The incident was upsetting to the whole family, Hill added, noting his children are feeling less safe in their home, especially because the theft was committed while the family was home and the lights were on.

Hill said that as soon as his daughter saw the man run off with her puppy, she called for her parents.

Her mother was the first to react.

“She darted out the door in her nightgown,” Hill said of his wife. “She tried to chase him down but she lost him in the alleyway.”

The family then spent a long night searching the streets around their home for the puppy.

“We were out until two o’clock in the morning,” hoping to hear her bark,” said Hill, noting that the puppy tends to bark a lot when she doesn’t get attention.

A spokesperson from the Niagara Falls Police Department said the family had called the police about the incident, but that there was not much the police could do to help.

Lt. Bryan DalPorto said that the family had asked the police to enter a home in the neighborhood where a dog was barking, but that police were unable to do so without probable cause. He said that the theft does not appear to be part of a trend in the city.

The family said they will continue their search for the dog and have alerted all their neighbors. On Tuesday they made posters they plan to spread around their neighborhood.

Contact reporter Michele DeLuca at 282-2311, ext. 2263.

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