SALT LAKE CITY — Pets are often considered a member of the family. Losing one, either by death or running away, can be difficult — especially for children.
Such is the case of 4-year-old Isaiah McOmber. He and his mother Tiffany have been to the Humane Society of Utah this week, as well as many other animal shelters, hoping to find Peaches.
Peaches is Isaiah's service dog. She's a papillon, a small dog with big ears. And she and Isaiah are inseparable.
That is until this past Monday when the harried mother and her son accidentally got on a bus without the dog. Peaches hasn't been seen since.
"My son has autism, and (Peaches) helps calm him during the day, and also the routines we do together," McOmber said. "So she comes almost everywhere we go. We've had her for almost 4½ years now. Those two have been together their whole lives."
Whether it's hiking in the snow, visiting the planetarium, or just sleeping, Isaiah and Peaches were never far apart.
"She's basically a medical service dog. She assists in any problems that he may have. She warns me if he's getting stressed or worn out," McOmber said.
There's plenty of stress now for the entire McOmber family. Her husband, James, was sworn into the Army earlier this week, and just left for basic training in South Carolina. It's the first time he and his wife have been apart in their 8-year marriage.
James will end up in Texas, and Tiffany and Isaiah are planning to move there soon. So they're selling many of their belongings, including their car. McOmber, her son and Peaches have been using the bus to get around. On Monday, McOmber admits she made a big mistake while waiting for the UTA bus to come along.
"I was stressed about James leaving and wasn't thinking clearly. And I accidentally left the pet carrier on the bus bench," she said.
They were at the transportation hub at 600 West and 300 South in Salt Lake City. They got on the bus, and soon realized they'd left Peaches behind.
"We jumped off the bus literally, and got a ride from a wonderful lady who didn't even know us and gave us a ride back to the bus station to find out if the dog was there. It was only in a space of 30 minutes, so that means she must have been picked up by somebody," McOmber said.
The Utah Transit Authority didn't receive any reports of a lost animal, and surveillance video showed nothing. No witnesses, either.
But the family hasn't given up. Tiffany and Isaiah have visited most of the animal shelters in the area this week, but no sign of Peaches.
Isaiah hasn't slept well because of all this.
"She (Peaches) helps with his sleeping patterns," McOmber said, "so that he can sleep in his own bed by himself and things like that. And now, with my husband being gone in the military, that's a lot of extra stress on my son, so she helps assist in that. Isaiah just wants his dog back."
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