Mike Heath is a homeless Vietnam War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He lives off disability checks and spends his days in cheap motel rooms in Minnesota. Now, he’s sleeping in his car to save money for a reward. His service dog Baby was stolen from him a few weeks ago.
Baby is an 11-year-old Shih-poo who has spent the last decade with Heath. Since a doctor recommended Heath get a service pet, Baby has been helping Heath cope with PTSD. Baby often pulls him away from stressful situations that could trigger panic.
A letter from the Minnesota Disability Law Center reads, “Baby assists Mr. Heath by alerting him to when he is going to have a psychiatric episode by walking in a circle around his legs, nudging him and barking.”
The last time Heath saw Baby, he was splitting a motel room with another homeless man. Heath says the man used his car to bring a woman to the motel. After they went to a gas station, Heath said he saw the woman walking Baby down the street and thought they were going back to the hotel room.
That was the last time Heath saw Baby or the other homeless man.
Heath says his deteriorating health has affected his memory and he’s become too trustworthy.
“There’s something wrong with my mind,” he told the Star Tribune. “I trust everybody too much. I see that woman walking away with my dog, and I don’t do anything? I think she’s coming back?”
“That image of her walking away with Baby stays with me,” Heath said.
Heath believes the woman was a drug addict who ended up selling Baby. He’s even visited potential drug dens looking for her.
Heath is placing hand-written flyers around South Minneapolis, where he believes the thieves are from. His laptop along with his debit card was also stolen before his meager bank account was depleted.
Heath hopes that whoever may have bought Baby would return him.
“He’s my Baby boy,” Heath said. “He’s been with me every day of his life. I bet he’s sitting by the door somewhere waiting for me to come back. I hate it that in the late stages of his life, he doesn’t have me. He’s got to come back to the world he knows.”