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By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ A scared little lapdog that escaped into the woods from its backyard and went on the lam for 10 days â€“ an event that caused fliers to appear in every shop window in Wickford and galvanized the community into search parties â€“ has been found.
Zorro, a Lhasa Apso rescued from an out-of-state puppy mill, vanished Feb. 2 and managed to avoid being eaten by coyotes or killed by a car while traveling from one end of town to the other.
After reported sightings on Tower Hill Road, Ten Rod Road and even as far north as the Quonset Business Park, the filthy and footsore vagabond was finally captured by rescuers late last week on Old Baptist Road.
Roie Griego, president of Friends of Homeless Animals, an international organization headquartered in Rhode Island, said in a phone interview that a call came in from a woman who â€śsaw his poster on a van and decided to go look for him. Sure enough, she saw him going through a hole in a fence into somebodyâ€™s backyard.â€ť
Griego, who spends the winter helping â€śstreet dogsâ€ť in Mexico and deploying veterinary volunteers to provide treatment to pets of low-income owners, immediately contacted local members of her group who â€śwent flying over there.â€ť
Zorro was still in the yard, in a fenced-in area, but at first resisted aid. Griego explained that he was one of 10 dogs left at the end of an auction of dogs who, after years of breeding, were being sold off for one last bit of profit. Because of abuse, Griego said Zorro is still wary of strangers.
â€śAt the end of the auction a whole group of dogs hadnâ€™t sold; nobody wanted them. The auctioneer announced that if he didnâ€™t get $1 apiece, theyâ€™d be killed. We took them all, eight or 10, had them spayed, neutered, treated for medical problems and updated on shots. Zorro was one of those dogs.â€ť
On Old Baptist Road, volunteers â€śthrew a blanket over him, he settled down and they took him to the vet,â€ť Griego said of the capture. He was checked out and, other than being filthy, covered in ticks and having an upset tummy from foraging for food, Zorro was, amazingly, fine if a tad tired from his tour.
With no idea where he lives and no GPS, the 22-pound pooch had survived cold, snow, hunger and what must have been terror.
He was given medicine to calm his stomach, taken to a groomer to be fluffed and buffed and returned to his foster home where he spotted a familiar cat and began wagging his tail.
â€śSomebody was looking out for this little guy,â€ť Griego observed. After settling back in with his foster family, Zorro was seen on the couch, snuggling with the husband and watching TV â€ślike nothing ever happened.â€ť
According to Griego, Friends of Homeless Animals â€ścovers a huge area. We rescue the dogs nobody else will take from all over the country. Last year we probably adopted out 700 dogs. We make a pretty big impact.â€ť
Involved in animal rescue for 25 years, she said the recovery of Zorro was â€śa test of everyoneâ€™s love, patience and determination.â€ť
Griego added, â€śI want to thank all the caring and wonderful citizens of Rhode Island who came out in force looking for him. When the girls told me they had him, I started crying. I bawled my head off. They were tears of joy and relief.
â€śWeâ€™re so happy that we have him back.â€ť
Zorro still needs to be adopted to a loving, secure home where he wonâ€™t be able to practice his Houdini impression. For more information about adopting him and other small dogs, call 234-4499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN and can be reached at email@example.com.