2008-12-17 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

If the following lost dog situation were a Lifetime movie, a happy ending would be guaranteed, especially at holiday time. But it's not TV; it's real life.

On Dec. 9th while two Colorado humanitarians were on LI for meetings about their foundation that helps destitute children in Haiti, their Chihuahua took off from the Sheraton Hotel. "Steinbeck" a 15 pound pup is still missing in Brentwood. Have you seen him?

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. This year hurricanes and the tragic school collapse spotlighted the desperation on the impoverished island. In 1994 Susie and Joe Krabacher of Aspen established the Mercy & Sharing Foundation (www.haitichildren.com), a non-profit relief organization operating in Haiti with an extensive network of feeding centers, clinics, orphanages and schools.

The Krabachers strive to give the forgotten children of Haiti, hope and opportunity so that one day they will thrive and become the saviors of their country. No donations go toward administrative costs back in the states. Susie and Joe take money out of their pockets to meet all other expenses.

The Colorado couple flew here with their 5 Chihuahuas. Last Tuesday 5 year old "Steinbeck", mostly tan with a black back, slipped away from their housekeeper when she was transferring him from a carrier to a leash in the Sheraton parking lot on Motor Parkway. He ran through a hole in the fence toward a sump and then disappeared.

Their search is more difficult because the area is not residential. As strangers here, these distraught people have little community support. They are so far from home but are staying as long as they can, offering a $5000 reward. Yes, a $5000 reward. Unless someone picked Steinbeck up or the worst has happened, their frightened dog, lost in an industrial section right near the LIE, has been out in the torrential rain and sub zero nights.

Bonnie Folz the coordinator of Team Vivi, the search for the Westminster champion Whippet lost at JFK almost 3 years ago, is guiding Steinbeck's owners. No one has more hands on experience hunting for missing dogs. Strategies learned may not have found Vivi but have rescued many other dogs throughout the country. Ironically this fall Bonnie happened to be at the Pharaoh Hound National Specialty in Tennessee when a puppy from Manhattan slipped her lead. She and Team Vivi veterans helped with the dog's recovery 11 days later. (See a slide show of the fabulous team effort at: www.karinthepi.com/id121.html.) Last week Vivi alumni trapped 3 terrified teddy bear puppies that had been abandoned on Meadowbrook Parkway.

Back in Brentwood, insulated humane traps are set by the fence and a spot where Steinbeck was supposedly seen, but that sighting turned out to be a different Chihuahua repeatedly let loose by his owner. Bright yellow posters are widespread. Another 500 translated into Spanish will go up next. Steinbeck's 4 housemates howl calling their brother while Joe and Susie visit the town shelters.

On Friday Laura Totis and her tracking dogs came up from Maryland. Her trained sleuths picked up scent by the sump but not much more. Calls came in that Steinbeck was at Brentwood Country Club. Saturday shifted gears to Suffolk Community College after a woman told us her friend saw "our dog" there in the morning. Possible? He'd have to safely cross under the expressway.

More people need to learn that this out of town dog is missing. I'd love to think he is resting comfortably inside the home of folks who will do the right thing once they read about him. Steinbeck is microchipped and wearing his chip tag. Presently we are trying to publicize his plight on the TV news but

poor Steinbeck is competing with other breaking pet stories. Newsday's piece was bumped. So far radio hasn't materialized.

I only spent a few hours at the location but find the Brentwood location even more frustrating than Kennedy Airport or Flushing where we followed Vivi's

trail. Both dogs vanished in winter but JFK had more open terminals and trucks for shelter; more stores to post flyers; more people to tell the saga. Vivi had a national network behind her; few know about Steinbeck. LI malls are impersonal. Today the Costco manager didn't want to hear what I had to say. Merry Christmas to you too, sir. In contrast the hot dog truck lady on Crooked Hill was quite sympathetic.

Suffolk roads by the Sheraton have no shoulders so it's too dangerous to staple on telephone poles. I taped Steinbeck posters to a charity clothing bin that said: "Bridging the Gap, One Child at a Time". It seemed like the appropriate spot. Steinbeck's owners do so much for others. Wouldn't it be only fitting if Long Islanders could return their kindness and help get their Chihuahua back safely? I'm not asking for a Christmas miracle-just want little Steinbeck to be reunited with his loving family. Epilogue: This plea was finished late Saturday evening. Tragically the worst happened-Sunday Steinbeck's owners found his lifeless body on the LIE….

For Adoption: Sorry, I am having some trouble segueing into a shelter list. Yet the dogs and cats at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset are waiting for someone to take them home. "Tazz" the cinnamon Maine Coon cat who posed patiently on the office counter in the Santa beard, is 13 years YOUNG. His owner passed away. "Valley Girl" is a stray, sweet purebred black Lab who appears to be about 6-7 years old. Dogs: "Dery"-a female Beagle; older Maltese; older Toy Poodle; "Luke" the yellow Lab mix. Cats: "Sesame" #1000- black & white female; "Cartwheel" #1025-tabby with pretty face.

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