MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey veteran is pleading to get his best friend back after the dog disappeared at a beach Sunday.
It’s a hidden gem in Middletown; with clean sand and a clear view of New York City, Ideal Beach is aptly named.
But it’s a sore spot for Jrluis Ruiz because it’s the last place the Marine Corps veteran saw his precious puppy, Apollo.
“I’m not exaggerating at all when I say he’s literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
It was the 24-year-old’s first time taking the Belgian Malinois to the dog-friendly area of beach. After a long day in the sun, he says he put Apollo in his truck while he helped his friend pack up his car.
Within that two to three minutes, Ruiz says the dog disappeared.
“In your heart of hearts, what do you think happened to Apollo?” Layton asked.
“I know he was taken,” Ruiz said. “He’s not one to run away. He was going into training. I was gonna have him be a service animal and was trying to get him to be my service animal … I was a happier person with him. Any problems I had just went away when he entered my life.”
The sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves says he received the animal as a gift from a friend in his unit over the Fourth of July. He and man’s best friend quickly became inseparable.
“Describe to me what Apollo means to you,” Layton said.
“I’m not a very emotional person, but when it came to Apollo, I was definitely a lot more vulnerable. He meant a lot to me. He was basically like a son,” he said.
He’s offering a $2,000 reward for Apollo’s safe return with no question asked.
He says he’s filed police reports in every nearby town, and there’s a Facebook page dedicated to finding Apollo, showing pictures and videos of the pup with a light coat, black tail and black face, pleading for help finding him.
“I just don’t want him being sold or something worse than that to happen to him,” Ruiz said. “I just want him home.”
It’s a simple request to do the right thing from a man going above and beyond by serving our country.
You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.