PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Enzo went missing on July 1.
The beloved 9-year-old Italian Greyhound slipped out of his grandma’s home in Wilkinsburg while his family was on vacation, and they haven’t seen him since.
There have been searches – volunteers looking on the ground. “Enzo! Enzo, come! Enzo, where are you boy?” They put up flyers, followed up on sightings and even brought in Pitt SkyView Drones to do a flyover of the nearby busway and railroad tracks.
But Enzo, he may not be lost at all. In fact, his family says they believe the handsome greyhound might have been located weeks ago. On July 16, Enzo may have been found by someone at the McDonald’s in Wilkinsburg.
What makes them believe that?
Enzo’s grandma says that is where his scent trail goes cold.
The family brought in a tracking team from Pure Gold Pet Tracking in Virginia. Golden retriever Brie and her handler, Sam, have had many success stories, but this time around, Enzo was not at the end of the trail.
Instead, the family says Sam and Brie tracked Enzo’s scent to the place where he was last sighted, the McDonald’s on Penn Avenue. But, at the door to the fast food restaurant, Brie lost his scent and couldn’t pick it up any further.
If Enzo was picked up at the McDonald’s in July, he has still not been returned to his family.
Not one phone call about his microchip being scanned. No posters, no social media postings about a greyhound being located. No animal surrenders at police stations or shelters.
Finding a wandering dog doesn’t always mean you’ve found a stray.
Consider this, Enzo was fending for himself for 16 days before it’s believed he was picked up. He was most likely tired, dirty, hungry and dehydrated from all that time alone. But that doesn’t mean no one was looking for him.
Animal advocate and Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team Executive Director Mary Withrow says Enzo’s family is heartbroken, especially the kids who love to play with him.
There are guidelines to follow if you find a wandering dog like Enzo. Even if you are well-meaning, and just want to give a cute pup a roof over his or her head, remember that someone may be out there searching, desperately calling their name.
In Pennsylvania, animals are considered personal property.
The law does not say a person who finds a stray must take it to a shelter; however, Withrow says the most important thing to remember is that those laws only protect a shelter approved by the state to hold a stray.
Withrow says, “The law on stray holds in Pennsylvania only applies to shelters and rescues that hold dogs for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. If you find a dog and you are not one of those shelters and rescues, you are not protected by any law, and if you re-home it, and the rightful owner somehow comes forward, not only did you create a lot of fear and anxiety for the dog and owner, the dog could possibly be a service dog, but you’ve also opened yourself up to be charged with theft.”
In addition to charges, someone who keeps a dog that doesn’t belong to them, good intentions or not, can face a costly civil lawsuit from the animal’s rightful owner.
The bottom line, if you find a dog, the right and kind thing to do is bring it forward to the proper authorities. If you’re looking for a pet that desperately, there are more than a few at shelters and rescues all across the country that need homes.
So, what measures can you take to ensure your dog gets back to you if he or she ever gets lost?
First and foremost, Withrow says license your dog. It’s one of the most important things pet owners can do.
“It’s truly what you have to prove that the dog is, in fact, yours,” she says.
Pet owners can also have their dogs microchipped.
“If a dog is taken to a shelter with a chip, license or tattoo – those are all considered permanent forms of ID – there are more measure that must be taken to find an owner, including a certified letter to the last known address of the owner on the chip, license or information obtained from a tattoo. Many think it’s a 48-hour hold in Pennsylvania, that’s only if there is no chip, license, tattoo,” Withrow says. “Strays must be where they can be viewed by the public, and if there is a license for example, an attempt must be made to contact the owner, if that comes up empty, a certified letter must be sent and the five-day hold begins when receipt of letter received is received by the sender.”
So, what about Enzo?
Well, unfortunately, whether he and his family get a happy ending remains to be seen. If you know Enzo, they would love to hear from you.
For many loving pet owners, that happy ending never comes. A tragic way to break up a family.
“There are so many people looking for their lost dogs and some of them will never have closure, never know what happened. If you find a dog, it is not yours to keep, and again, you are not protected by any of Pennsylvania’s dog laws,” Withrow says.
Remember, if you find a dog and want to do right by it, turn it in to responsible authorities – police, firefighters, animal rescues and others.
That dog may be part of a broken family looking to make themselves whole again.