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Here's a true tail wagger
A little dog's big adventure

 A newly reunited Donna Kennedy and Chica, along with family friend Katie Garrow, 8, meet some of the many local volunteer searchers.
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Date published: 5/14/2010


Chica surely didn't mean to cause such a ruckus.

The 7-pound Chihuahua was traveling home to upstate New York from a vacation in Myrtle Beach when her family stopped at Cracker Barrel in Massaponax for a dinner break on April 17.

Chica hopped out for a bathroom break, and it seems that everyone in the group thought someone else put her back in the car.

It wasn't until they'd driven five hours up the road to Harrisburg, Pa., that they realized Chica hadn't curled up under one of the seats or burrowed into a blanket like she usually did.

In fact, she wasn't in the car at all.

"Then we started to freak out," said Donna Kennedy, Chica's owner, who lives in Canton, N.Y., about 2 hours north of Syracuse. "I couldn't believe she wasn't in the car."

Chica, who is 8, wasn't wearing a collar either. She routinely hangs out under the car seats, so Kennedy had taken it off so it wouldn't catch on the springs.

In a panic, she called Cracker Barrel, but the manager hadn't seen Chica.

Kennedy went to bed heartbroken. The next morning, while the rest of the group headed home, she rented a car and drove back to Spotsylvania County.

She wandered around the Southpoint shopping center, calling Chica's name. She even walked up and down Interstate 95 after Spotsylvania Animal Control reported that someone had seen a match near Exit 126.

In the end, she made the 10-hour drive back home sans Chica.

She had to be back in time to teach math education classes at St. Lawrence University that Tuesday.


But Kennedy was far from giving up. On her way home, she called the Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office, state police and every veterinarian in the 540 area code and urged them to keep an eye out.

Once home, she posted a "Lost" ad in The Free Lance-Star and on Craigslist.

She started a Facebook page called "Find Chica."

She listed information about Chica on PetAmber Alert.com.

And using Google Maps and an online phone book, she called thousands of residents who lived within a few miles of the Cracker Barrel.

"My friends and I probably called around 2,000 phone numbers and left messages on machines," she said.

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Donna Kennedy pulled out all the stops in an effort to find her lost Chihuahua, Chica. In addition to hanging posters and taking out ads in The Free Lance-Star classified section, she:

  • Posted a "Lost" ad on Craigslist and started a Facebook page called "Find Chica," which attracted quite a few followers.
  • Hired Baltimore-based Pure Gold Pet Trackers, which brought a golden retriever to Spotsylvania to track Chica's scent.
  • Turned to PetAmber Alert.com, a service, which ranges in cost from $50 to $80, that creates a poster based on information that you provide and then circulates that via mail, fax and e-mail to veterinarians, animal shelters, groomers, pet stores, police stations and media within a 50- to 150-mile radius of where your pet was last seen.
  • Monitored PetFinders.com, where animal shelters and rescue groups post photographs of animals they've found. The site is searchable by animal, breed and Zip code.

  • Used Google Maps and an online phone book to find home numbers of residents who live in the area where Chica was last seen. She and her friends estimate they called 2,000 people.