SAN ANTONIO – Coming home for lunch Tuesday, Crystale Gellman saw the dog treats she kept on top of her dogs’ crates were laying in the driveway. That’s when she knew something was terribly wrong.
She walked in the front door that was already open and immediately looked around her living room past the items that were scattered on the floor.
“Their crates are usually on the wall,” Gellman said, her voice choked with emotion. “I leave their toys between the two of them.”
Bruce and Nugget, the 4-year-old English bulldogs belonging to Gellman and her husband, were gone. They had been carried out the front door in their crates by a burglar.
“We can’t have children, unfortunately, so they were our babies,” she said.
“They didn’t just take our dogs. They took our family,” said Justin Gellman, Crystale Gellman’s husband.
Crystale Gellman pointed to a solid wood box that the thief tried taking, believing it held something valuable. The box had a velvet bag holding the ashes of Rosie, a bulldog the Gellmans had lost earlier this year.
“We lost two and swept up a third off the living room floor. There’s a little bit on the coffee table as well,” Crystale Gellman said.
They said, thankfully, they had surveillance cameras inside their home, which caught images of the suspect.
Crystale Gellman said despite that and other measures, the burglar was still able to try nearly every window in broad daylight in view of the houses across the street. The suspect finally broke in through the back door of their garage, even though it had a deadbolt.
Pointing to a large flathead screwdriver that the thief left behind, she said, “All it took was a screwdriver and he busted in and ruined our lives.”
The Gellmans had only moved to San Antonio in the past year or so, into a Northwest Side neighborhood off of Loop 410 and Cherry Ridge. After Rosie’s death, they said Bruce came into their lives thanks to Lone Star Bulldog Club Rescue in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Justin Gellman said when Bruce was found on the streets, he was starving, infested with fleas, his paws were injured and he was nearly blind.
“His eyelids grew inward, and that’s what caused him to go blind. The people who had him never took care of him,” he said.
Crystale Gellman said Bruce needs three special eye drops daily to help preserve what’s left of his vision. She said Nugget was Bruce’s guide dog.
Justin Gellman said if Bruce lost a treat on the floor, Nugget would help him find it.
“He would get lost in the backyard if it weren’t for her,” he said. “We nursed him back to health and gave him a happy place to live and now somebody came and took him.”
The couple said there’s a reward being offered for the return of both Bruce and Nugget with no questions asked.
“Just bring them back. You can have the rest of it, man, I’ll load it up for you,” Justin Gellman said. “They’re no good to you. They’re both fixed and micro-chipped. You can’t breed them. I’ll give you what you want out of them. I just want my dogs back.”
In addition to flyers that the Gellmans are posting, anyone with information about the dogs’ whereabouts, the suspect or the burglary itself is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 210-224-7867.
Crystale Gellman said even though computers, TVs and other valuables were taken as well, “Technology is replaceable. Your loved ones aren’t.”