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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- If you're a dog lover, you'll understand why Elizabeth Todd cradles her chihuahua Poppy like a baby.

Poppy's just my heart, said Elizabeth. They become part of your family, part of your life.

You'll also understand why Monday was so terrible.

It tore my heart out to think something had happened to him, said Elizabeth.

Her 9-year-old son Tim was there. He remembers hearing something awful.

It was a terrible yelp, said Tim. Real loud and we heard wings flapping and we looked back and Poppy was flying right up there.

Some kind of large bird had picked up the 3-pound chihuahua.

It kind of looked like he was in both of his talons and the bird was flying up and he was looking down and whining, said Tim.

The family spent hours searching the nearby streets and neighborhoods for Poppy, but they couldn't find him. That made it hard to get to sleep.

It was a very sleepless night because everything that kept going through my mind was my little dog being torn apart and it was hard to imagine that he was going through that, said Elizabeth.

When I went to sleep, I lost a little hope, said Tim.

After a night of tossing and turning, relief showed up right at the front door as Elizabeth's dad was leaving for work. It was Poppy, running to Elizabeth's arms.

I just broke down in tears because my little Poppy was back, said Elizabeth.

Poppy was in one piece, despite being a little dirty and scratched.

He just wanted to love on someone, said Tim.

Miracles still happen, said Elizabeth. Prayers get answered even for little dogs.

Wildlife experts say some large birds can lift animals twice their own body weight.

Pet owners should stay close by their pets when outdoors, or use a leash.

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