Homeless L.A. man back with his pit bull
Mike Reed, a homeless man in LA and his pit bull Topaz are best friends.
Topaz got caught in a police crossfire, but survived with the loss of a leg.
The story is below:
I was driving down Century Boulevard when I spotted them — a
homeless man, judging from the Vons grocery cart he was pushing down
the sidewalk, and a three-legged pit bull in a service dog vest,
hobbling alongside, her leash tied to the cart.
I made a u-turn, saw him walking down Hawthorne and, after one more
u-turn, pulled my rental car alongside the man and dog as they turned
down 101st Street.
His name is Mike Reed, and his dog’s name is Topaz, and as we sat on
the sidewalk and talked — next to his bottle of King Cobra malt liquor
in a black plastic bag — Topaz, weary from a just completed walk,
snoozed on the concrete, wearing a service dog vest that said “Don’t
Touch Me, I’m Working.”
Reed has had Topaz for five years. He takes care of her. She takes
care of him, helping him cope with life on the streets — the kind of
life that can turn violent at any second, and on Aug. 31 did just that.
On that day, he and Topaz found themselves standing innocently in
the middle of a confrontation between another homeless man and officers
from the Inglewood Police Department.
Reed had just met the man minutes earlier — after the man entered a
store and an employee noticed what appeared to be a gun in his pants.
Police were called, and tracked the man down. Not knowing whether Reed
was an accomplice, officers put Reed in a squad car. Topaz remained on
the sidewalk, leashed to Reed’s grocery cart.
As Reed describes it, police told the suspect to put his hands in the
air. The suspect raised and lowered his hands two times. The third time
he lowered them, he reached for what police thought was a gun, and a
barrage of shots followed.
The gun turned out to be a plastic toy.
Four or five shots struck Topaz, one shattering her hip bone.
“She pulled my Maserati (his shopping cart) off the curb and fell over, but she kept looking at me.”
He pleaded with police officers to let him go to her. “I said, ‘Let
me get to my dog, let me get to my dog, let me get to my dog,’ and they
Eddie Franco died in the shooting, in which eight officers fired a total of 47 shots,
according to KTLA-TV
Topaz was taken away in a police car. Reed was taken into custody, and
his possessions were confiscated. He was later released – but given no
information about his dog. Having watched as she was struck, he
presumed she was dead.
“It threw me,” Reed said of losing his dog. “I’m OK, I can survive
an attack or two; we’re in L.A. But they shot my dog. They shot my dog.
You can shoot me, but don’t mess with my best friend.”
Reed, 50, who has been described as having “mental problems,” says he has been homeless, or, as he put it “pulling a
” for the last 10 years
Without his dog, “his world was just taken away,” said his friend
Tina Larson, who went to high school with Reed and lives near one of
the spots where he hangs out.
Two days later, though, a message was relayed to Reed that his dog was alive.
Months before the incident, Ingrid Hurel-Diourbel, founder of
had seen Reed and his dog on the street, collecting recyclables, and
stopped to talk to him. She placed one of her organization’s rescue
tags on Topaz, who had no identification, and Reed gave her his
stepmother’s phone number.
When the Carson Shelter’s animal control unit — where Topaz was
taken after the shooting — saw the tag, they called Hurel-Diourbel, who
got the message to Reed.
She also started contacting other rescue organizations to raise money for the surgery Topaz needed.
Meanwhile, Reed retrieved his dog, and apparently wasn’t told about
how serious her condition was. For several days, rescue organizations
searched for him so that Topaz could get the surgery.
When they finally found him, infections had set in. Vets removed her right rear leg at the hip.
It took about two months for Topaz to get up and around, Reed said,
and she can’t cover as much ground as she used to. “We can’t go too far
no more. We have to stay close. She’s not vicious or anything, but
she’s a good guard dog. She she still watches my back,” he said.
“I help her during the day. She helps me at night.”