Composite shows an NYPD SUV with its emergency lights on in Central Park. Inset is a photo of an Asian woman holding a small black and white dog.
A distraught Upper East Side mom is offering a $5,000 reward for the return of her dog Panda, who she says was stolen in Central Park | Upper East Site, Makiyo Davidson

$5,000 Reward Offered for UES Family’s Dog Stolen in Central Park, Owner Says

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An Upper East Side woman is distraught and fearful after her family’s beloved dog, Panda, was stolen by a stranger in Central Park on Wednesday, she tells Upper East Site. The brazen theft, which she says her children witnessed, comes as police increase patrols amid a crime wave in the park.

“I feel very, very, very upset and devastated,” Makiyo Davidson, 39, of Lenox Hill told Upper East Site in an interview. Breaking down into tears, she went on, “I want Panda to know we’re waiting for him [come] to back.”

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An Asian woman with brown hair lies next to a small black-and-white dog
Makiyo Davidson said her family dog Panda, a 9-year-old Shih Tzu, was stolen in Central Park on Wednesday | Makiyo Davidson

Struggling for words, she said between sobs that, “We put a lot of toys and a lot of snacks for him to come back, we really miss him.” 

Originally from China, Davidson, her husband and their two children moved to the Upper East Side last April, though they’ve had their black-and-white Shih Tzu Panda since 2016, sharing eight of his nine years with him.

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A small black-and-white dog with a red leash sits on grass
Panda has been a beloved member of the Davidson family since 2016 | Makiyo Davidson

On Wednesday afternoon, the Davidsons’ nanny picked up the kids from their Lenox Hill apartment, bringing Panda with them to play in the park, the mom said. Making their way to the footpath on 79th Street, she added that the nanny let Panda off his leash, something she’s never done except in an enclosed area like a dog run. 

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“I feel it’s a terrible mistake, and it’s just a horrible thing [to do],” Davidson lamented. Though she said the pup is shy, and not prone to running off, she admitted anything can happen. 

A black sign warning park-goers that all dogs must be leashed
Davidson said her nanny let Panda off his leash despite them being on an open footpath, not in an enclosed lawn | Upper East Site

While the nanny was paying more attention to the children, who are three and five years old, the dog owner told Upper East Site a witness saw a man scoop up Panda and run off. 

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“They tried to catch this person, but he was running very fast and they couldn’t,” she explained. 

A young Asian child lies on a pink carpet with a small black-and-white dog
Both of Davidson’s children were present when Panda was taken, she said | Makiyo Davidson

Davidson saw the nanny’s frantic text messages around 5:30 pm, and said she immediately felt fear, sadness and panic swirling through her mind. 

She quickly enlisted friends to help her scour the park around where Panda had been taken, but they had no luck. Traveling to the NYPD’s Central Park Precinct station house on the 86th Street Transverse, she explained that she recounted the ordeal to officers who took down her information. 

Investigators could not immediately confirm to Upper East Site the details of the report. 

A small black-and-white dog sits in a dog bed on a floor with a red plaid blanket
Imagining Panda scared, alone and away from the people that love him has the Davidsons crying nonstop | Makiyo Davidson

“The tears, I couldn’t stop crying,” she remembered. “It’s just devastating, more than I can describe.” Her children, Davidson said, witnessed the sudden dognapping and her son, in particular, is inconsolable. 

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“He went through the full process with nanny, when nanny was looking for Panda he was there and so his cry, it wouldn’t stop,” she said. “This morning, they ask me, ‘When’s Panda back?’”

An Asian mother and son sit on a chair looking at a small black-and-white dog on the pink and white polka-dotted carpet on the floor
Davidson worries that her children don’t understand that Panda was stolen, as they repeatedly ask her when he’s coming home | Makiyo Davidson

She worries that because of her children’s age, they don’t fully understand the gravity of the situation and simply believe Panda has disappeared. 

“I don’t know how to answer them properly because I just couldn’t see my son’s tears, he just wouldn’t stop [crying],” the mom said, at her wit’s end. “It’s just too sad even to think or talk about.”

Two pictures. One shows an Asian woman posing with a small black-and-white dog wearing a boat captain's hat. The second shows an Asian man wearing a dog in a red baby carrier harness
Panda has been a part of the Davidsons’ lives for the last eight years, and they can’t bear to imagine a world without him | Makiyo Davidson

Offering the public a $5,000 reward for information leading to Panda’s return, Davidson said, “I want to say to this person whatever it takes, please just return our family [member], our baby dog.” She added that Panda is prone to anxiety, and cries when left alone.

The theft of Panda comes just days after the NYPD announced increased patrols inside Central Park to address a rise in robberies and grand larcenies, as Upper East Site reported. 

Photo shows a police SUV driving through Central Park
Robberies and grand larcenies are surging in Central Park this year, according to NYPD data | Upper East Site

Since the start of the year, Central Park has seen 18 robberies and 12 grand larcenies, up from four and eight, respectively, over the same period in 2023, according to NYPD data. 

ALSO READ | Dog Mauled by Pit Bull Inside UES Park, Owner Blames ‘Menace’ Neighbor

Though Davidson has enjoyed her one year of living in America, she now worries for the future. 

A small, black-and-white dog with a tiny grey bow in its hair stands on a grey floor
Davidson is offering a $5,000 reward to the public for information leading to Panda’s return | Makiyo Davidson

“Since this happened, I have some insecurity, I don’t know what is going to be next,” she said. “During daytime, and in Central Park, and all around the children playing, I feel kind of afraid to know that this could happen.”

If you’ve seen Panda, or have any information that could help, Davidson asks that you call her at (347)-803-9332 or click here to send an email.

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