Thursday, July 24, 2008

Woman Uses Internet to Track Down Missing Dog


by Conor Greene

A Bronx family whose dog went missing missing in early June had nearly lost hope–until a pet lover and dog rescuer from Middle Village located the pooch in a shelter 200 miles away.

Bugzy, a mixed Rottweiler, was separated from her owner, Theresa Mollica, in the Bronx on June 8. Witnesses reported seeing a woman drive away with him in a red van with Pennsylvania license plates, according to Phyllis Taiano, a local dog rescuer who eventually helped locate Bugzy using the Internet.

After the dog went missing, the Mollicas flooded the web with postings explaining how important a part of their family 14 year-old Bugzy is, especially to Theresa’s terminally ill husband. For weeks Taiano searched websites listing lost dogs taken to shelters and had no luck until last week. The break came when she searched under German Shepherds instead of Rottweilers.

“I’m checking all the local shelters, and as you go down the page they get further away,” she said. “I get to the second page, and read about a dog that came to a shelter with out of state tags named Bugzy,” she said. When she saw that they shelter doesn’t assign names to incoming dogs, Taiano knew she had found the Mollica’s dog in Rhode Island, 200 miles from home.

She called her friend, Cathy Schnurr, who knows the Mollicas and confirmed that it was definitely Bugsy. Taiano called the shelter, located in Pawtuckett, and spoke with manager John Holmes. They found out that the shelter had picked Buzgy up on June 9 after receiving a call from a woman about a stray dog in her development. It was later reported that a woman matching the description of the woman seen driving away with Bugzy in the Bronx was seen in the immediate vicinity in Pawtuckett

The discovery ended a nearly two-month stay in the Pawtuckett shelter and setup a reunion captured on local television news cameras. “I was kind of losing hope, but now I’m so happy,” a jubilated Theresa Mollica told ABC-6 television in Pawtuckett. “I would never even have thought of [looking in] Rhode Island, or how to go about finding him.”

Holmes told the station that the “dog was sick at the time,” but was taken care of and added to the website. “His photo was then picked up by someone in New York.” The successful search aided with the website, where Holmes posted the photo and description of Bugzy that Taiano found.

“We have an amazing [online] network, with more than 100 people in it from New Jersey, Delaware, Florida, the west, south,” said Taiano. “When dog goes missing, we all network among each other.”

Taiano isn’t sure if the woman stole Bugzy of took him with the intention of keeping him, but said she shouldn’t have just abandoned him. “We have the feeling that she dumped him because he has a stomach issue and takes medicine every day,” she said. “She probably didn’t have the money to take care of him, and instead of bringing him back, she just let him go.”

Helping to reunite the lost dog with its family is "awesome, a good feeling,” she said. “If you love animals, you understand how it bad it feels to lose one. Then, to be reunited when you never thought it would happen. Most people hold on to [lost dogs] and aren’t always trustworthy.”

“This is one of the best days of my life,” said Mollica.

Photos: The Mollica family after being reunited with Bugzy in Rhode Island. Bottom: Phyllis Taiano and John Mollica greet Bugzy.

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