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Published: Sunday, 1/20/2013

Rescue groups argue over handling of missing New York dog sent to Toledo

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A New York-based group says Northwest Ohio Underdog Rescue is not doing enough to find Bones. A New York-based group says Northwest Ohio Underdog Rescue is not doing enough to find Bones.
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A local rescue group and a New York animal advocacy organization are at odds over the handling of a missing dog.

Bones, a 130-pound dog that was sent from New York to a Toledo rescue group to work with aggression issues, was stolen Jan. 5 from Northwest Ohio Underdog Rescue, Inc.

The dogo argentino was among 16 dogs housed at Northwest Ohio Underdog Rescue, but he was the only dog taken, according to Kathy Sutter, who founded and operates the rescue from her West Toledo home.

Robin Mittasch, co-founder of the Lexus Project of Oceanside, N.Y., which rescued the dog from New York’s animal control office, said the group is offering “a very large reward” for its return.

She asked the thief to return the dog to Sylvania Vet, 4801 North Holland-Sylvania Rd., Sylvania, with “no questions asked.”

Ms. Mittasch and Ms. Sutter disagree over the handling of the search for Bones. Allegations have flown back and forth on the Facebook pages of the Lexus Project and NWO Underdog Rescue.

Ms. Mittasch said in a phone interview Ms. Sutter had not filed a police report regarding the breaking and entering, had not posted the flyers with information on Bones being lost, and had failed to contact area veterinarians and shelters about the dog. Ms. Sutter also had another dog in her care that ran away in the fall and did not do anything to try to find him, Ms. Mittasch claimed.

A local Lexus Project volunteer filed a police report on Jan. 13 and was told by the Toledo Police Department that it was the first it had heard of the missing dog, Ms. Mittasch said.

Ultimately, Ms. Mittasch says she blames herself for not checking out Ms. Sutter’s credentials before placing the dog with her.

“I feel like we let Bones down,” Ms. Mittasch said. “After we fought for his life, I set him up to fail. I failed him, but I can’t sit here and beat myself up forever. All I can do is try to do everything I can to bring him to safety.”

Ms. Sutter said she did call the police and she did contact the local media immediately after Bones was stolen to get the word out. She also spoke with Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle on Jan. 6, which Ms. Lyle confirmed.

“He was stolen, he didn’t run away,” she said. “Where do you even begin to post flyers when you have no idea where he could be?”

Ms. Sutter said she feels like more effort is being spent finger-pointing at her rather than trying to find the dog. As to the other dog that ran away in the fall, Ms. Sutter said she did put up flyers but never got a single lead.

One of the accusations posted on Facebook is that Northwest Ohio Underdog Rescue Inc. is not a registered nonprofit. However, Ms. Sutter has a letter from the IRS dated Aug. 24, 2012, stating that she was given 501(c)(3) status and therefore any contributions to the group are tax-deductible.

Another accusation is that Bones was killed by another dog in Ms. Sutter's care, which Ms. Sutter denies.

“Bones is not a fighter,” Ms. Sutter said. “Even if another dog came at him, he wouldn’t fight, that’s just not how he is.”

The Lexus Project has a small group of Toledo-area volunteers working on posting flyers and following up on any sightings of dogs that could be Bones, Ms. Mittasch said. Anyone who sees a large white dog with one black ear is asked to approach him with a ball, which he loves, and smelly food, such as a can of sardines. They can also call the Lexus Project at 516-319-4249.

Bones created a media sensation in New York in November, 2011, when his owner, Shaun Dyer, allegedly killed his roommate, David Shadha, by striking him in the head with a pipe. Mr. Shadha’s body had bite marks. Authorities seized the dog.

In January, 2012, after the Manhattan Prosecutor’s Office determined the dog was no longer needed in the case, Bones was released to the Lexus Project.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.



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