Owner of missing dog, spotted near Mass and Cass, offering a $5,000 reward for his return

Shelly Vermani says she’s been living a worst nightmare ever since Alejandro, her 8-year-old Chihuahua was stolen from outside Whole Foods near Fenway last weekend.

The search for the tan-and-white-haired pooch continues, and Vermani is offering $2,500 to anyone who comes forward and returns her “companion, child and everything.”

Vermani said she’s matching a $2,500 award made by a local dog lover — PR guru George Regan — and the traveling nurse hopes this will entice the thief to come forward.

“That’s how much I want my dog back,” Vermani told the Herald Wednesday evening. “It’s not about money to me. I love the dog for him. I don’t want another dog. I want him back.”

“It really touched me because it has been the worst five days of my life,” Vermani said of the community’s support. “It felt good to know people are trying to give back. It gives me hope that if we give this person money, they will release the dog hopefully healthy.”

A tip that Vermani said she received on Instagram informed her that “somebody suspicious” might have been seen walking a dog that looked similar to Alejandro in the area of the Mary Ellen McCormack Housing complex in South Boston around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Vermani said she received footage from the Boston Police Department later Wednesday that shows an individual walking with Alejandro around Mary Ellen McCormack on Saturday.

Footage that BPD previously released from Saturday, around 11 a.m., shows someone with Vermani’s dog in the area of Mass and Cass, a homeless encampment prone to heavy drug use.

A BPD spokesperson told the Herald the investigation is ongoing and that Alejandro is still out there, without providing any areas where he may be.

The dog went missing at about 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, when Vermani said she went to Whole Foods to pick up soft food for Alejandro, who underwent surgery recently. In the past, she said, she’d leave the pooch by himself in front of stores, without incident.

“In the last year, I think the homeless problem and the drug problem have gotten a lot worse. I lived here last year and it was just not this bad,” Vermani said. “I have lived in Seattle, even my friends would do that with their dogs. People never try to take animals. It’s a healthy animal, he doesn’t look like he’s in distress.”

Alejandro had been a constant presence in Vermani’s life on a daily basis when not at work for the past eight years. The Michigan native brought him to Seattle for a previous nursing assignment.

“Everyone who knows him is in complete distress; can’t eat, can’t sleep,” Vermani said. “Whomever this person is, this is not just about Jandro, it’s about the people who love him, too.”

Shelly Varmani is offering a $5,000 award to anyone who returns her missing 8-year-old Chihuahua, Alejandro. (Contributed/Shelly Varmani)
Shelly Vermani is offering a $5,000 award to anyone who returns her missing 8-year-old Chihuahua, Alejandro. (Contributed/Shelly Varmani)