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Strangers help veteran searching for lost dog in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A truck driver from Kentucky is getting a taste of the Volunteer Spirit after losing his dog, Bruce, on a stop in Knoxville. 

Related: Kentucky veteran, truck driver finds missing dog after 10 days in Knoxville

Anthony Hardin pulled off to fix his truck after it broke down. That's the last time he saw Bruce, an Old English bulldog.

Bruce is described as white with a brown patch on his right eye, brown speckles on his right ear, and a brown patch on his hind quarters. 

"This is my buddy. He's my best friend out on the road," said Hardin. 

Hardin says he spent the rest of that afternoon and into the next morning searching for Bruce, but wasn't able to find him. 

"I drive a semi. He sits in my passenger seat with me all day. If I'm having a bad day, he's right there with me," said Hardin. 

Hardin says Bruce isn't just a pet, but a companion. Hardin served in the Army National Guard and lives with PTSD. He says Bruce keeps him from getting anxiety attacks as a result. 

"He's somebody I can talk to, somebody I can lean on. As a veteran with PTSD, it's a big, big help right on the road," said Hardin. 

What he didn't expect was local volunteers seeing his wife's post asking for the public's help to find Bruce. 

"So many people travel through that you can't help, but if someone's in need you stop and you help. That's just what Knoxville does," said Debra Linde, a Knoxville local helping Hardin search. 

With his semi-truck being unable to fit on roads in the area Bruce was most recently spotted, Hardin has been walking - that is, until a group of Knoxville locals offered to help, including driving him back and forth from searching to his hotel. 

"I will look as long as I have to. I will look until we find him." said Hardin. 

Hardin says Bruce has gone viral. Since posting on Facebook, thousands have seen and shared the post.

"People are calling. I probably get 20 or 30 calls and texts a day saying, 'Hey, we're still looking,'" said Hardin. 

The last tip he received put Bruce in the Holston Hills area, but Hardin hasn't seen him just yet. Hardin's work route brought him back through Knoxville on Monday and he spent a few hours searching, putting out treats for Bruce to find. 

The local group says they'll continue to look and follow tips even when Hardin is gone. 

"Anyone connected military, anyone with PTSD, anyone with a family member. it's just a special tie. Knowing a little white bulldog is running around scared to death, that's what you do, you stop to help," said Linde. 

Anyone with information on Bruce's location should call Anthony Hardin at (270) 227-6156. There is a $2,000 reward. 

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