A San Francisco woman was viciously assaulted at gunpoint while walking her dogs and her 5-month-old French Bulldog was stolen by an unknown group of assailants in what she believes to have been a targeted attack.
Sarah Vorhaus told Oxygen.com she was walking Tuesday night with her 8-year-old Shiba Inu Colton and 5-month-old French Bulldog Chloe when a man in a black hoodie and surgical face mask walked up behind her as she was bending down to pick up her dog’s poop, demanding she hand over the 13-pound dog.
“A man came up behind me and in my ear said ‘Give me the dog’ and I was confused because I didn’t know what that means,” Vorhaus said.
She turned to face the man and he reiterated his demand, held the gun to her head and then punched her twice in the face, she said.
“Then Chloe was gone and I just dropped to my knees and started screaming as loud as I could,” she said. “Within seconds, minutes, 20 people were on the street calling 911.”
Vorhaus said the theft occurred at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday night as the “busy” streets of San Francisco were filled with other people.
“There were a lot of other dog walkers out,” she said.
One of the witnesses, Shelley Peery, later told SF Gate that she saw the end of the attack and could hear Vorhaus’ screaming.
“It was horrifying,” she said. “Neighbors came out with frozen peas right away. It was definitely upsetting, but in the moment, you are trying to make sure Sarah was OK.”
Police believe two other men stood outside a waiting car during the theft—while a fourth suspect drove the getaway vehicle.
Vorhaus said she only saw one man at the time of the attack, but realized the others had been there after viewing surveillance footage of the assault.
Even more disturbing, she believes the theft of her French Bulldog—a highly coveted and expensive breed—had likely been planned.
“We have reason to believe that my attackers were waiting for me outside of my apartment,” she said. “So, this was not a random act of violence; it was premeditated, which adds insult to injury. It’s just so scary on top of everything else.”
Vorhaus and her partner Peter live just about a block away from where she was attacked and he was able to get to the scene in about five minutes.
“I kept telling him, ‘They took Chloe, they took Chloe, they took Chloe,’” she said through tears.
After the violent punches to her face, Vorhaus’ nose was “gushing blood” and her eye was “swollen shut almost immediately.”
“The ambulance came. I didn’t even want to go to the hospital. I wasn’t even feeling any pain and they’re like ‘You have to go to the hospital,’” she said, adding that she still has severe bruising on her face from where she was punched.
Vorhaus and her partner Peter’s focus now is on trying to find the grey-coated French Bulldog, who joined their family in late September.
She has launched the website “#FindChloe” and is offering a “no questions asked” reward for her safe return.
The 5-month-old puppy had been wearing a purple collar at the time she was stolen and has a distinctive white spot on her chest that Vorhaus is hoping might help identify her.
“She’s a very beautiful dog and her face is so distinct and truly it’s that white mark that stands out,” she said.
As the couple continues to search for their beloved dog, Vorhaus said they have left the city and are staying at an undisclosed location.
“We don’t feel safe being at our apartment,” she said, adding that “this attack and the loss of Chloe has really highlighted that there are just very violent people in the world.”
She urged other women to stay alert—even in their own neighborhoods.
“Keep your wits about you. You are not safe. I never thought I would be attacked at 5:45 p.m. in my neighborhood a block from my house walking my dog.”
She credited the “overwhelming support” she’s received in the days that have followed—whether it’s from family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers— with being “the only thing keeping us through.”
Vorhaus also had a message for Chloe’s captors.
“Keep her healthy. She loves food. She gets cold easily, so put her in a jacket if it’s below 50 degrees and you know, just be kind with her,” Vorhaus said through tears. “We can live with Chloe not living with us as long as she’s safe, but we obviously want her back.”
San Francisco Police public information officer Adam Lobsinger told Oxygen.com that the investigation remains “active and ongoing.”
Anyone with information about the case, is urged to contact the San Francisco Police Department 24-hour tip line at 1-415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.
“You may remain anonymous,” Lobsinger said.
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