BOONE COUNTY, KY (FOX19) - The service dog that assisted a disabled veteran in Richwood, Kentucky has been found dead, the family confirmed.
The dog, Gunner, was crucial for the veteran's safety. He alerted family members when Bryan Vallandingham is having seizures.
The family believes he was stolen from their yard more than two weeks ago.
"He would notify us if Bryan was getting ready to have a seizure. He would tell us by sitting in front of him by laying across him or just barking randomly at Bryan so he would notify us and give us time to get him in a safe situation so he wouldn't hurt himself," his wife, Kimberly said.
The body of Gunner was found near railroad tracks along Dixie Highway in Boone County.
Bryan is a 14 year Army veteran. He was released for medical reasons and Gunner was his service dog.
The family got him three years ago, and he grew into a member of the family - also Bryan's caretaker until he was taken from the yard.
The veteran's sister said the Boone County Sheriff's Office is investigating if extortion is connected to Gunner's disappearance and death.
A relative said they started getting text messages from a person claiming to know where the dog was. According to the family, the person ordered them to put money on a gift card but they refused.
On Monday, they got a call from a shelter saying that Gunner was found dead a half mile away from their home.
The family said Bryan wasn't doing well after learning his dog had died.
His sister-in-law said that he is now having repeated seizures.
Police and family are not saying how the dog died.
The investigation is ongoing.