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Friday, March 30, 2007

Service Pit bull Dog-Napped and held for Ransom

Buster was STOLEN and then held for RANSOM by a slimball in Philly, the 'City of Brotherly Love' MY ASS!!

Best Friends Network Story Heartbreaker! <~click for more pictures

March 30, 2007 : 12:00 AM
By Randi Bildner, Best Friends Animal Society

A crime was committed - a theft; one with more than your typical ramifications.

In the eyes of the law, a dog is considered property. Sad but true. Law or no law, this is not the sentiment of Jim and Chris Kelly who live in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia.

Buster, a member of the family, loyal companion, and assistance dog to wheelchair-bound Chris Kelly (a victim of Spina Bifida), was stolen. Buster was taken away from life with his family and they are desperately trying to get him back.

March 16th was a snowy evening. Buster (a three year old pit bull mix) was eagerly waiting for his pal Chris to come home. Joe Kelly, Chris's dad was waiting too. As Chris struggled to get in the front door Buster slipped out. Excited to see the fresh snow that had fallen, he ran down the street. Mr. Kelly did not bother to grab a coat as he ran after him. In a matter of minutes, he heard someone yell, your dog has been stolen. Before Mr. Kelly knew what was going on, someone approached Buster and simply took him.

This is just the very beginning of this sad strange crime that has yet to be resolved. Mr. Kelly lost sight of the person or persons who saw this happen and no one has come forward to provide a description of the perpetrator. Devastated, the Kellys did not know what to do; a police report was filed.

The following day

Buster was wearing his rabies tag which enabled the thief to locate his veterinarian. Two phone calls were made that day. A heavily accented man called the Kelly’s veterinarian and then proceeded by calling the Kelly home. The man said that he had Buster and wanted to know how much money the Kellys would be willing to give him in order to get their dog back.

A flustered Mr. Kelly hesitantly said fifty, a-hundred dollars. The following day after a report by Doug Shimell of WCAU, a local television station, aired the story, the man called the Kelly’s again, now demanding $500 and spewing threats that included, "I can take this dog and sell it to people who want to use him in fighting-type situations with other dogs."

An outpouring of love came as a result of the news story. People sent well wishes, prayers and donations, enabling the Kellys to raise the money for Buster's ransom. But the thief has yet to call back, the last word coming on March 22, 2007.

Cpl. Lou Sytsma, of the 24th police district, was sympathetic to the crime, he stated, "The best you can hope for is a neighbor that sees the dog or someone that lives in the area where the dog might be and they call and give a tip." Cpl Sytsma has his officers armed with flyers showing Buster’s photo and has informed them to be on the look out for the dog.

Philadelphia experienced its highest murder rate in over a decade in 2006, with 400 plus murders in and around the city. This bleak news for The City of Brotherly Love is not good sign for Buster and the Kellys. The reality is, with the statistics reported above, it is very hard to believe that Buster's theft is a priority.

Buster has been a member of the Kelly family for 14 months. In that time he has formed a close bond to Chris Kelly 32, who is wheelchair-bound. According to the elder Kelly, Buster has learned to guide Chris when he uses a chair lift to reach the second floor of their home. Mr. Kelly states, “Buster goes up the steps and walks alongside the chair. He also said that the dog was constantly by his son’s side.

Chris Kelly justifiably said, "It hurt me. It's my dog, and that he would take something from someone who is in a wheelchair -- it just angers me."

The Kellys are praying that somewhere within the person who took Buster there must be a conscience and an understanding of the pain he has caused.

Hopefully this person will reach very deep into his soul, (if he has one) and realize what he has done. He has not stolen not a piece of property (as the law would indicate) but a very important member of a family, whose one wish is that their dog will be brought back to them, safe and sound.

The value listed on the police report for the “property” stolen is $200.

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