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Monday, February 27, 2006

Weary Whippet Owners' Update

From the American Whippet Club's site, as of Saturday night, Feb. 25:

"Vivi has still not been found as of Saturday evening, in spite of some media reports to the contrary...Here are some other updates:

"First, it turns out that a limousine driver sighted what must have been Vivi at the airport in the evening the day she was lost, ten days ago This means that we can be almost sure that she did not drown in the marsh, which has been our worst fear. Second, a Delta spokesman has assured me that contrary to what has previously been reported, Delta has conducted several thorough searches of the areas of the airport they have access to, and will continue to do so on a regular basis. (Why neither Jil nor anyone else in our search party was informed of this is not clear.) Although these searches were unsuccessful they at least show concern.

"Outside the airport, a second group of volunteers, organized by Bonnie Folz, has been searching the JFK neighborhood all day, from dawn till evening. Many of them drove long distances to offer their help. We are overwhelmed by their support and extremely grateful to all those who turned up in the freezing cold to help. Posters have been put up in store windows all along Rockaway Blvd. Most of the store owners and many customers we talked to were already familiar with Vivi and have been on the lookout. So far there has been no reported leads.

"The best chance is that Vivi is still inside the airport. Paul and I were again allowed to search the restricted areas of JFK for several hours, accompanied by a Port Authority official. The good news is that there are heated cargo buildings where Vivi could hide out and make a home for herself for as long as she likes. She is a good hunter and has caught and eaten wild game (rabbits, squirrels)in the past. There are also dumpsters which allow easy access to employees’ lunch leftovers.

"The bad news is Vivi does not respond to calls from the people she knows. Nor has she been caught in any of the traps. (One of them contained a feral cat.) The problem which makes further searches futile, however, is the size of the airport and of the cargo buildings. Unless you have been inside JFK you cannot imagine the enormity of the area across which Vivi is obviously roaming. Each hangar is as large as an average shopping center. Many are abandoned and dark. All are heated. And, each has hundreds, if not thousands, of hiding places for a dog. It is frankly overwhelming (and not surprising that apparently in the past at least one dog was lost at JFK for a whole year without being found.)

"We are faced with the following scenarios:

"If Vivi is still at the airport she is most likely hiding out in any of the cargo buildings, in which case she will have to make herself known before she can be found.

"If Vivi got out of the airport she could have been killed by a car; she could have been picked up by someone who is unaware of who she is; and although it’s unlikely she could be hiding without having been seen.

"Although we will no longer be able to participate in the search, both the Port Authority and Delta Airlines will continue their searches, and the traps will be kept out, loaded and checked frequently for at least several more weeks. Their searches are not completely altruistic, since a loose dog at the airport constitutes a safety risk, but it also guarantees that the searches will continue to be taken seriously.

"Paul and I will make another tour of the most likely areas tomorrow and check the traps, before returning to work in California and keep hoping for a miracle.

"We hope for further assistance from Delta. Jil’s Delta connection has been helpful and assures us that the airline will continue to do what’s necessary. The costs involved have been fairly heavy and we also want to be able to thank those who so generously have donated their time and their help. It is our hope that Delta will agree to take responsibility for these costs.

"We continue to get offers of help from a large number of psychics. Most agree that Vivi is safe at the airport. Others differ widely--from a suggestion that she is now in France to other much more negative reports.

"I want to add a few important notes: We’ve heard from some people in the street that $5000 is not enough reward "because the dog is worth over $100,000." That is of course not true: Vivi is priceless to Jil and to all those who love her. But, if a price can be put on a whippet of her age, sex and breeding potential it would be more like $20,000. The unrealistically high figure was mentioned by Jil in the first moment of panic in an attempt to get helicopters in the air to search (which succeeded), more like "She’s worth anything to me, however much money you can think of, even $100,000"...

"Jil suggested that instead of offering to contribute to the reward for finding Vivi those who wish to donate money should do so to Bonnie Folz and rescue efforts. I’ll be happy to forward information as required.

"I was told that today was the last organized Vivi search...However, I understand that many concerned individuals will continue to look for Vivi on their own, even though we are now almost sure that she is somewhere within the restricted JFK area. We appreciate all the help and good wishes tremendously!

"We just got back from a last late-night run, had to check against all odds whether Vivi had been seen again. It didn’t make much sense since that last viewing was ten days ago but we just had to look anyway. I sure hope she’s OK somewhere in there.
Very late, very tired...Bo.''

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