A guide dog, whose apparent abduction sparked an outcry in China, has been returned to its handler with an apology note, state media report.
Qiaoqiao, was reportedly taken by a group of men on Monday, while being taken on a walk outside of Beijing.
The story of her abduction and her blind owner Tian Fengbo’s ensuing grief led to outrage among Chinese netizens.
She was found on Tuesday with a letter in a plastic bag on her collar reading: “We were wrong… we beg pardon”.
Mr Tian said he could “barely eat or sleep” after Qiaoqiao, a seven-year-old Labrador, went missing.
“Qiaoqiao always accompanied me. She was like a friend to me. Now I feel like I’ve lost a close friend,” Mr Tian told local media after she went missing.
He added that the dog had been living in his care for five years and has since become part of his family.
Residents in the area where the dog was taken told local media that there have been a series of recent dog thefts.
The motive of Qiaoqiao’s kidnappers remains unclear but it is common in China for pets to be abducted from the streets or even in the comfort of their homes, by dog thieves and sold to meat markets.
The incident began trending on China’s popular micro-blogging site Weibo after news of the incident emerged, with calls for harsher punishment for Chinese dog thieves.
“What kind of monster must you be to slaughter a blind man’s dog,” remarked one angry netizen.
“Is this the kind of nation China aspires to be? Dogs are man’s best friend, not food,” said another.
One user noted: “Ever wondered why everyone celebrates when villagers take matters into their own hands and punish no-good dog thieves themselves?”