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Column: Do the right thing for missing furry friends

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — She is, as the name implies, royalty, or at least treated as such.

Her name is Reina. Queen. That she is, at least to the humans who share her Vista del Norte home with her.

But if you saw her, perhaps you’d understand that. Perhaps you, too, would fall in love with, do anything for this tiny bundle of fur and charm and moxie.

If you saw her.

Her family hopes you will.

They hope you will find her and help bring her home.

“I’m slowly losing hope,” says Camille Gonzales, dog mom and assistant principal at Sandia High School. “Why can’t people do the right thing?”

We’ll talk about people and the wrong thing later. First, let’s talk about Reina.

She’s a morkipoo, a blending of Maltese, Yorkshire terrier and poodle. Suffice it to say that she’s a cute white and tan little thing, under 4 pounds. She’s 6 months old, a gift from the girlfriend of Gonzales’ son. At the time she vanished, she had no collar – that from an earlier incident when she wiggled free from the collar and leash – but she is microchipped.

Sometime before 5 p.m. June 5, Reina scampered out the front door, which had not been properly shut, her escape captured on the family’s security video system.

“I thought she was upstairs with the boys, and they thought she was downstairs with me, so it was about an hour before we realized she was missing,” Gonzales said.

They starting calling for Reina. Their next-door neighbor heard them and told them that he had seen a little dog in the street that nearly got hit by a car. The neighbor’s mother caught the pup and went to nearby homes hoping someone would claim the dog.

“Funny, though, she never came to our house,” Gonzales said.

Later, the family learned the woman had taken the dog to the nearby Bernardo Trails Park, at Vista del Norte and Vista Monte NE, where she gave the dog to a man in a white Nissan SUV who claimed to be an Uber driver waiting for fares and who promised he would help find the dog’s owner.

Aedyn Gonzales, Gonzales’ 18-year-old son and the one who doted most on Reina, spent the rest of the evening circling the park, looking for her, looking for the white Nissan.

Reina, a 6-month-old white and tan morkipoo, disappeared June 5. He may have been given to a man who claimed to be an Uber driver. (Courtesy of Camille Gonzales)

Since then, Gonzales and her family have peppered their neighborhood off Osuna NE with flyers and posted on Facebook and lost pet sites. They have contacted rescue groups, the microchip agency, Uber. Aedyn goes daily to shelters in search of Reina. They drive around the park, walk around the neighborhood, cry.

“Pretty sure I’ve officially reached the third stage of grief,” Gonzales said. “The fact that someone out there took our puppy and has given no consideration to the fact that she’s a beloved member of a family makes me irate. I hope karma catches you, whoever you are.”

There’s that people doing the wrong thing part, or so it would seem.

For Jeff Hartzer, there is no question of wrongdoing in the case of his missing Pyrenees mix puppy. Hartzer says he’s already gone through every stage of grief and then some since Data was stolen May 5 from his Chevy Blazer parked in front of the Walmart near San Mateo and Zuni SE.

It was the cool of the evening and a short errand. He had cracked the windows of his vehicle just enough. He parked as close as he could to the front. He was in the store only a few minutes, he said.

Data, a 3-month-old Great Pyrenees mix, was stolen May 5 from a vehicle parked at a Walmart on San Mateo and Zuni SE. (Courtesy of Jeff Hartzer)

That was enough time for one man to reach in through the window opening, unlock the door, grab Data from the front seat while a second man pulled up in a black Chevy Avalanche, picked up the other man and Data and drove away.

That, he said, was witnessed by a Walmart employee collecting shopping carts in the parking lot. Hartzer never got to see any footage from store surveillance cameras, never treated as if the loss of his beloved pup mattered.

And oh, that dog mattered. Like Reina is for the Gonzaleses, Data is a member of Hartzer’s family, loved like a child.

“He was so full of love,” Hartzer said. “We were lucky to have him in our lives for a month.”

Data, named for the “Star Trek” character, was 8 weeks old and yet to be microchipped. He is creamy white, with big, meaty paws and a joy that practically glowed from him.

It’s been more than a month since Data was taken, and Hartzer’s efforts to find his dog have been met with indifference or irritating woulda-coulda-shoulda comments that do nothing but make the pain deeper.

One thing he’s also noticed is how many dogs have disappeared, as if Cruella had been unleashed across the Albuquerque area and a thousand half-opened doors and gates have suddenly blown open.

Online sites like Pawboost and Albuquerque Pets Lost and Found are filled with pleas for pooches lost. Facebook and Nextdoor contain numerous reports of lost or found dogs and cats. Across neighborhoods, flyers with photos of missing pets flutter from utility poles.

In the past few weeks, worried humans have pleaded for word on their missing Scooby, Rex, Zeba, Chucho and a one-eyed, 17-year-old Chihuahua, among others. Just in the time I wrote this column, I received two emailed alerts from HomeAgain pet rescue – one for Tatiana, a lilac-colored (apparently, there is such a shade in the cat world) rag doll cat missing from near Sweetwater and Buenos Aires NW, and one for Alo Vera, an American wirehair cat missing from Lilac and Floral NW.

If you see them, any of them, help them get home. It’s the right thing.

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Reach Joline


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