Dog gone: Greyhound fans pitch in to search for Newtown family's pet
By Marietta Homayonpour
Updated: 01/07/2009 07:07:35 AM EST
NEWTOWN -- Elwood is big and beautiful, quiet and friendly -- and he's been missing for two weeks.
"He was the center of our family," Kara Pansa said of their 6-year-old black greyhound, Elwood. "The house is empty."
Pansa lives on Turkey Hill Road with her husband, Greg, and their sons, Stephen, 10, and Jason, 7.
"My kids were devastated," she said. "They still are."
The family searched frantically for Elwood after he went missing the night of Dec. 23.
Pansa said they searched the streets and woods in the area through the night and during the next day, which was Christmas Eve. Neighbors helped.
On Christmas Day, the Pansas received the help of strangers. About 20 people from animal help groups joined in the search, on foot and in cars.
"We cannot thank these people enough," Pansa said. "I am truly grateful."
Among the groups helping were Greyhound Rescue & Rehabilitation, We Adopt Greyhounds, and Connecticut Greyhounds.
"When you've had a greyhound, you love them all," Christine Johnson, founder and president of GRR, said about why her group helps search for missing ones. "They are so special."
Johnson described the breed as "gentle, so kind, and affectionate without being needy."
Because greyhounds are bred to be racers, they are all muscle, with no body fat. They do not have an undercoat, as most dogs do. That means greyhounds have little protection against the cold and are very sensitive to weather extremes.
On frigid winter days, owners usually put sweater coats on the dogs when they go outside.
Around 8 p.m. the night Elwood disappeared, Kara Pansa said she let him out the front door briefly while Greg Pansa was in the driveway taking care of the garbage. Kara went to get the dog's coat and leash.
When she came back outside and didn't see Elwood, her husband told her the dog went into the backyard and he could hear his collar tags making noise.
His collar has three tags -- one with the Pansa's home address and phone number, and another had information to contact GRR. The Pansas got Elwood from GRR three years ago, after their 13-year-old Spaniel mix, Petey, died.
Pansa was comfortable letting Elwood out without a leash briefly, something she has done before.
"He was so attached to us. He was not interested in chasing small animals," she said. That's why when Pansa went to the backyard Dec. 23, she was surprised not to see the dog.
Johnson at GRR said greyhounds should never be let out without a leash. "They're sight hounds and as racers were trained to chase."
Sixty percent of Greyhounds' senses are in their eyes, Johnson said, and they can run up to 40 miles an hour and be "a mile away in a heartbeat."
With the help of people from the animal groups, the Pansas put up about 1,000 fliers in Newtown and Monroe, distributing them at shopping malls, asking people for assistance in finding Elwood. Several false sightings were reported, the last one Jan. 2, Pansa said.
Monroe asked the family to take the signs down this week, and Kara Pansa was doing that Tuesday.
"They're survivors," Johnson of GRR said about greyhounds. "Elwood could have found some place and is hunkered down."
That's why Pansa and Johnson are asking people to check under their decks or in sheds or barns for the dog.
Pansa said if someone took Elwood or hit him with a car, the family wants to know. "There will be no repercussions. It's terrible not knowing."
Johnson said anyone with information about Elwood can call her at the GRR office. "It will be kept in the strictest confidence."
Pansa said she and her family are determined to find their pet. "We're not giving up hope."
Contact Marietta Homayonpour at firstname.lastname@example.org
at (203) 731-3336.
LOOK FOR ELWOOD
MISSING: Elwood, an 80-pound, black, male greyhound with a white chest and white-tipped tail, has been missing since the night of Dec. 23 from Turkey Hill Road in Newtown.
CALL: Elwood's owners, the Pansa family, at (203) 270-5566 or (203) 241-3617, or Greyhound Rescue & Rehabilitation at (914) 763-2221.
IF YOU SEE ELWOOD: Do not chase him; call one of the numbers above immediately.