Owner worries lost pooch will not outlast biting cold

Published: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 1:03 a.m.

Katie, an 11-month-old yellow Labrador has an ear infection and a problem with her back legs.

Thursday was Betty Whittenberg's birthday, but she didn't get what she most wanted - her lost, handicapped dog back at her house.
"Katie," an 11-month-old yellow Labrador, was last seen Monday in The Valley subdivision off NW 39th Avenue and 38th Street. And with wind chills in the single digits this morning, Whittenberg said she doesn't know if her dog, an indoor pet who has an ear infection and a problem with her back legs, can survive for long.
Katie got lost on Saturday in the driveway of her new owners' home when she wiggled out of her collar. Whittenberg had made a decision to adopt Katie out - a decision she said she now feels guilty about.
But she thought Katie, a shy and fearful dog, would do better in a one-dog home where she could get a lot of attention. Whittenberg has six other dogs.
Katie has a neurological disorder that makes her back legs wobble and prevents her from jumping as high as other dogs, said Whittenberg, of Bronson. She looks normal but is unable to defend herself from other animals.
Whittenberg said if she can get her dog back, she will never try to adopt her out again.
"She will be with me," said Whittenberg, an internal auditor for the Alachua County School Board. "This has been a nightmare. I am very sorry I adopted her out."
Whittenberg and her co-workers have spent hours combing the woods but have had no luck.
Katie has survived against the odds and Whittenberg said she doesn't want her dog's life to end this way.
"The vet never expected her to progress like she did," Whittenberg said. "But she wound up a big, beautiful puppy."
Katie's sister and mother also miss Katie and know something is wrong, Whittenberg said.
"It is very sad at my house," Whittenberg said.
Katie is a 72-pound yellow spayed female. Anyone who sees her is asked to call Whittenberg at 955-7416 or (352) 486-3561.
Kathy Ciotola can be reached at 338-3109 or ciotolk@ gvillesun.com.

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