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Community raises funds for struggling family who cared for dog taken in carjacking

Posted at 3:10 PM, Jul 31, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — As people across Utah waited anxiously for the return of Reo, the Shih Tzu carjacked from a Clearfield gas station, he was unknowingly being safely cared for by the Mills family in Salt Lake City.

"He was the coolest dog ever, he didn't bark or anything. He was so cute, we just hung out with him gave him food, water, treats, played with him, you carried him around everywhere, the kids and dad were building the doggy a doghouse," said Mariah Mills.

Reo became a temporary family member to the Mills after Mariah says he was dropped off and abandoned by a woman she originally thought was the owner.

"My truck battery died and I had the kids flag somebody down, and this lady came by and the kids were like, 'Hey, can you give us a jump?' And she was like, 'Yeah, can you watch my dog? And they're like sure if you give us a jump, so she handed them the dog and she took off," Mills explained.

The woman, presumably suspect Melissa Rush, never returned, but Reo was eventually reunited with Dee Thorell, his rightful owner, on Saturday after days of being loved by the Mills

"We're happy," said Mariah. "He needs to be with his mommy, his own owners that are his."

The Mills family is struggling with homelessness, which makes their outpouring of love for Reo without regard for their own for well-being more impressive.

"The fact that this family was willing to take care of a tiny little creature when they're barely struggling to take care of themselves says everything about the heart and quality of this family," said Kseniya Kniazeva, executive director of Nomad Alliance, a Salt Lake City group working to end homelessness.

The Mills did not win the $2,500 cash reward as they weren't the ones who led the rightful owners to Reo, but with the help of Nomad Alliance, the community is raising money for the family who did so much for the dog with so little.

"The $10,000 that we will raise will go directly into purchasing a trailer," said Kniazeva. "We will purchase that camper for them, and help them get into a KOA and hopefully we can raise enough money that perhaps they can have free rent in the KOA."

"We're extremely grateful. it will be nice to get out of this camper into something a little bit bigger where we can fit," said Mills.

Anyone wanting to donate to the GoFundMe set up for the Mills family by the Nomad Alliance can CLICK HERE.