By REBECCA HARSHBARGER and KEVIN SHEEHAN
A 7-year-old girl got the best present ever yesterday — she was reunited with her best friend, who’d been dognapped by a cold-hearted thief the day before.
“I couldn’t sleep last night without Marley smiling,” Mia Bendrat said of her little pal, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel stolen from in front of a Washington Heights grocery.
Her relieved mom, Angie Estrada, said, “It’s a Christmas miracle. Oh, yes!”
The hero of the holiday story is good Samaritan Tena Cohen, who was headed to the Greenmarket in Union Square at about 1:30 p.m. Monday when she heard a man yelling, “Dog for sale!”
“It looked nervous and sad, and was kind of an older dog,” Cohen said. “I figured it was stolen.’’
She offered to buy the pooch.
“I said I had $100. He said the guy who owns it wants more” and pointed to a man, Cohen recalled.
The supposed “owner’’ was “very stoned, on drugs,” said Cohen, who teaches Spanish at Brooklyn Tech HS. “He said he paid $3,200 for the dog, and had it for years.”
Cohen then walked into a nearby Staples and made three debit-card purchases totaling $220.
Then she returned them for cash and went back to negotiate.
“I said, ‘Look, this is all the money I have,’ ” Cohen said. “He gave me the dog. I gave him the money.”
She took Marley to a vet and also called cops. Both men were gone by the time police arrived. But last night they picked up 29-year-old Brad Bacon, of Washington Heights, and charged him with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.
The vet checked out the dog for free and held him overnight. Cohen called a group called Cavalier Rescue USA.
Its president, Carolyn Stigler, remembered the story about Marley in yesterday’s Post.
Stigler contacted the vet, who called the Post reporter. She arranged for the dog to be taken to Mia’s family, to see if it was Marley. It was.
“This was my daughter’s Christmas wish,” said Estrada.
Until then, the family had been devastated.
“It was so sad,” Estrada added. “She sat in Marley’s nook and refused to dress up the tree.”
The happy ending came just in time.
“I can’t believe a grinch would steal our Marley,” Estrada said. “But the grinch didn’t win.’’
Mia chimed in, “I’m not going to let Marley go now, no matter what!”
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