Dog Taken in Car Theft Found 'Unscathed' and Reunites with Owner: 'Feels Like a Miracle' (Exclusive)

"I think all of us were sobbing," Pooja Chinnakotla tells PEOPLE of the moment her family reunited with their beloved pet

<p>Pooja Chinnakotla</p> Precious the dog

Pooja Chinnakotla

Precious the dog

A Pekingese dog named Precious had a happy reunion with her owners after being taken with her family's stolen car.

Pooja Chinnakotla tells PEOPLE she was out to dinner in Chicago on Monday, June 10, with her parents, who were visiting from San Francisco.

Chinnakotla's parents had arrived the previous Thursday with Precious, whom the family had gotten more than a decade ago while living in India.

"I'm very attached to her, and now that I live in Chicago and they're coming to visit, they said, 'Hey, why not? We'll bring her,'" she recalls.

Chinnakotla adds that Precious has become "super anxious" as she ages, so her parents take her "everywhere."

Precious was in the couple's Lexus, which was in air-conditioned Dog Mode with the windows cracked open, while the family ate at a Lincoln Park restaurant.

When they returned to where they'd parked the car in front of the restaurant, the vehicle with Precious inside was gone.

<p>Pooja Chinnakotla</p> Precious the dog

Pooja Chinnakotla

Precious the dog

Related: Man Discovers He's in the Wrong Car When He Finds Stranger's Dog in the Back Seat: Watch

At first, the family thought the car might have been towed, but when the towing companies they called confirmed the Lexus wasn't in their impound lots or inventory lists, the group called the police.

When the manager at the restaurant next door saw the family "freaking out," he went over to ask what was wrong and offered to check his business' CCTV camera, which revealed footage of someone getting in the car and driving off.

"At this point, everything just seemed way scarier," Chinnakotla says of learning the car was stolen rather than towed. "It was, 'Oh my God, did they leave her? Did they take her? What happened?'"

Chinnakotla's boyfriend, who was visiting family in Wisconsin, put out an APB for the missing canine, while she and her parents searched for Precious until 3 a.m.

<p>Pooja Chinnakotla</p> Precious the dog's lost pet flyer

Pooja Chinnakotla

Precious the dog's lost pet flyer

The following day, someone who had seen the APB happened to be in a Facebook group called Lincoln Park Moms. Another member of that group, a woman named Ana Lee, had posted that she had found Precious.

The mutual connection sent screenshots of Lee's post to Chinnakotla's boyfriend, and after making contact on Facebook, the family had Precious back by 9 a.m.

"I think there was a lot of luck, and it honestly feels like a miracle because Precious was unscathed, not a mark on her," Chinnakotla says. "And we got her back within almost less than 12 hours."

Related: Puppy Rescued by Denver Fire Department After Falling Through Vent on 3rd Floor of Home

She advises anyone in a similar situation to "lean on community."

"Don't be afraid to post and put flyers everywhere and ask around," she says. "We didn't even hesitate to ask anybody for help. We reached out to everybody we knew. Even if we hadn't talked to them in a few years, we had to send it out to everybody because that was our only chance."

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Chinnakotla describes her reaction to seeing Precious again as "tears."

"I think all of us were sobbing," she says. "Honestly, we didn't think we'd find her. So when we did see her and she was completely okay, it was just so relieving and it was an amazing feeling."

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