Hercules, a 6-week-old American bulldog puppy, returned to his family on Monday after two men kidnapped the pup and and his five siblings from a California animal hospital parking lot last week.
Hercules, who was bred as a service dog, was the fourth pup to be recovered, but two are still missing: Trident and Davy Jones.
"All kinds of horrible thoughts kept coming to my mind," their owner, Ryan Fingerle, 24, who is hearing-impaired, told ABCNews.com in an email. "They are innocent and helpless little beings."
Fingerle took the bulldogs to a North Figueroa Animal Hospital in Los Angeles for routine shots on Aug. 5. Afterward, she put the puppies in the car and ran back into the vet's office to pay a bill.
That's when two men walked up, opened the door and took all six puppies away in a box, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, which has surveillance video of the crime.
"Of course, grief was the first thing I felt, overwhelming grief," Fingerle said. "Without their mother's milk, they have very little immunity and cannot fight off any illness or injuries."
They were valued at $1,000 each, according to CW's Los Angeles affiliate, KTLA.
The puppies' mother, Fingerle's current service dog, "moped" around the house searching for them for days, Fingerle told KTLA.
Finally, on Aug. 10, Fingerle got the call she'd been hoping for: three of her dogs had been found.
"When I first got the call, I was terrified that the puppies would not be the right ones. I was so afraid of getting my hopes up," she said. "But when I saw them, I just ran forward crying and blubbering, and just wanted to hold them and never let go."
The newly recovered puppies, Zorro, Xena and Red Shadow, seemed to remember their mother and ran to her right away, Fingerle said.
A few days later, a man found Hercules a cardboard box in Huntington Park, with his ribs protruding, according to LAPD Detective Gabriel Nily.
"Thank you to the community for their help in recovering the four puppies," Fingerle said. "Kyliee, the mother of the puppies, is very happy and is now in a calm state of mind."
Fingerle said she was inspired to breed service dogs by her first bulldog, Tucker.
Tucker became Fingerle's service dog when she decided to live alone for the first time in her life. She trained him to tell her when someone was at the door, when someone was behind her and when he could hear other strange sounds that were too soft for her to hear, she said. He also protected her from anyone deemed threatening, and made her feel safe.
Tucker has since died, but Kyliee, the puppies' mother, is Fingerle's service dog now.
"She never leaves my side," Fingerle said. "American bulldogs are intelligent and devoted to their owners, and that makes them perfect for me."