News

French Bulldog Stolen in Late-Night Restaurant Burglary Attempt in Fort Lauderdale UPDATED

Have you seen Georgie? He's a nine-month-old French Bulldog, and he's been kidnapped.
Have you seen Georgie? He's a nine-month-old French Bulldog, and he's been kidnapped. Photo courtesy of Danaja Novakovic
Update 1/25/2022: Georgie has been returned to his owner. In a follow-up Facebook post, Danaja Novakovic writes that a Good Samaritan tipped her off that she might have seen Georgie walking with a woman. Georgie was recovered and the woman who stole the dog, who has been identified Agustina Natali Berrondo, was arrested and charged with grand theft, according to WSVN.

Original story follows below:

When Danaja Novakovic decided to escape to Fort Lauderdale Beach from her home in Virginia, she was expecting a relaxing time in the sun with her brother and her beloved French Bulldog, Georgie.

Instead, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, she became the victim of a dognapping at the Cambria Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach on N. Ocean Boulevard.

Around 3 a.m., the Novakovics were hanging out with Georgie at the lobby bar.

"We were sitting at the bar. It was my brother and I and another couple," Danaja Novakovic tells New Times. The dog was unleashed but she could see the main entrance and there was a door chime, so she knew that if Georgie wandered off, he couldn't get far.

As the party chatted, she saw a woman dressed in a black hoodie slide open the door separating the hotel's restaurant, Gianni's — which was closed at that hour — from the lobby.

At the same time, Georgie walked off to investigate. What happened next is every dog owner's nightmare.

When Novakovic noticed the dog was no longer at her feet, she looked up to see that the woman had picked him up and was running off with him.

"That's the last thing we know," she says.

Novakovic says she filed a police report and that hotel management has been reviewing surveillance camera footage.

She also posted a plea for help on Facebook on Wednesday morning.
New Times left several messages for the hotel's general manager but have not heard back.

Novakovic says she hasn't been able to sleep since the incident.

"This is literally insane. I haven't slept and I haven't eaten. I haven't even changed my clothes." She says her tropical getaway has turned into a search for her beloved pet. "I'm driving all over Fort Lauderdale at two miles an hour, looking for Georgie."

She describes Georgie as a nine-month-old black brindle French Bulldog who weighs 20 pounds. "He loves everyone," she says. "He will literally come up to anybody." The dog is microchipped and the registry has been notified that he was stolen.

The Croatian native is still in a state of disbelief about what happened. "I never heard of people stealing dogs," she says. "I left him off the leash because I never think of the worst."

After she posted the notice on Facebook, a commenter reported seeing a dog that looked like Georgie with a woman at the Whole Foods Market on N. Federal Highway.

But Georgie and his captor remain at large.

Novakovic requests that anyone who sees Georgie should call 911 and then contact her on Facebook or by calling her at 804-625-8440.

"The Fort Lauderdale police said to not approach the person but instead call 911 and let them know the case number — 34-2201-10506" and, if possible, keep Georgie in their sights, she says.

Novakovic says she won't rest until she's reunited with her pup.

"I just wonder: Is he eating? Is he safe? I never knew that anyone would ever intentionally steal my dog."
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss