Emotional Reunion: A Homeless Man Reconnects with His Stolen Service Dog, and Tears Flow.

Jimmy Nicholos works part-time at the START Rescue Resale Store, a thrift shop in Sherman Oaks outside of L.A. that funds pet rescue adoptions. Though he’s currently experiencing homelessness, he has a service dog named Boots who helps him get by. Sadly, New Year’s Eve was the last time he’d seen his best friend and helper in weeks.

On that day, a woman Nicholos had met before came into the store. She offered to groom Boots for free, and since she had made this offer once previously, he trusted her. Later, she told him Boots ran away from her when she took him to the park.

Nicholos was totally lost without Boots. He told Fox 11:

“He is my baby, he’s my child. I got two kids I never got to raise and when that happened he was the only thing that kept me sane. He never asked for nothing only a little love. I am at a loss for words.”


A Hazy Disappearance Story

The thrift store’s owner, Renee Ruston, saw how heartbroken Boots’ disappearance was on Nicholos.

“He’s in pieces. This dog is not only a service dog for him but his reason for being.”

Ruston helped Nicholos file a report with the police, and other START employees and volunteers helped spread the word. They also offered a $5,000 reward for his safe return.


Ruston says she found the woman’s story suspicious. As some have pointed out, why would she take him to the park when she was supposed to just groom and return him?

“She’s very vague… when I ask her things she doesn’t remember, and she stopped communicating with us the next day.”


Nicholos just wanted Boots back, and he wouldn’t stop until that happened.

“I’m not giving up. I won’t let this become yesterday’s news. I’m gonna have my baby back if it’s the last thing I do.”

Luckily he had the support of all his colleagues and friends with START Rescue.

“The START team put out 100s of fliers, hired a Private Investigator, had an attorney file a lawsuit, and worked 24 hours a day to find Jimmy’s best friend BOOTS.”

12 Days Later, A Phone Call

Eventually, as the story of Boots’ disappearance made its rounds, KTLA did a story on him and Nicholos. About an hour later, the rescue hotline received a phone call from an associate of the groomer. In a release, the rescue shared:

“Minutes after the show was broadcast we received a call from an associate of the groomer and her boyfriend; the caller said ‘I have your dog.’”

START immediately contacted Nicholos, and everyone went down to the police station in Van Nuys.

“Jimmy and BOOTS were reunited at midnight this morning and there was not a dry eye anywhere.”

Just because someone is experiencing homelessness, does not give anyone the right to take a dog away from them. With Boots back in his arms, Nicholos is always home.

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