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911 dispatcher takes up lost dog's cause

Doberman has been roaming West Vancouver for two weeks

A North Shore 9-1-1 dispatcher has taken on the search for a lost dog who bolted from her new owners just 45 minutes after they took her home.

Jodie Cohan learned of the two-year-old Doberman's plight two weeks ago, when she went into work and saw the notice a fellow dispatcher had posted.

The dog, called Niobe, had gone missing July 31 when it fled from its new home in Dundarave.

Cohan didn't take action at the time, but a week later, when the centre received a call from a man who believed he had seen the dog, Cohan realized the Doberman was still missing and threw herself into the search.

"I went home to my boyfriend; I said we have to look for this dog," said Cohan.

Her boyfriend, her son and some other friends have all joined in the search. Tips have come rolling in from people who've spotted the dog - mostly in the area between Taylor Way, Marine Drive and 13th Street in West Vancouver - but so far, no one has been able to catch her.

The dog's owners said they are grateful for Cohan's help. Christopher Angeletti said he and his family got Niobe July 31 from a Kelowna breeder who specializes in breeding Dobermans.

Minutes after arriving at their house, the dog escaped through a hole in a fence.

"When she got out of the yard, we saw it happen. . . . She really didn't want to be near us at that point," said Angeletti. "She's a big dog; she's an 85 pound Doberman. It's not like I can just pick her up and take her back to the place. At one point I did get my hand on her collar, (but) she's so strong."

Angeletti said he and his girlfriend go out about three times a week to look for the dog, and whenever they hear of a sighting, they jump in their car and rush to the location. He is also offering a $200 reward.

"But as the days go on, what we can do is pretty limited," said Angeletti. "There isn't really a bond between her and my family, because we only had her for an hour."

Although Dobermans can look imposing, Cohan said people should have no reason to fear Niobe.

"I don't want people to be afraid of her because she's not aggressive; she never has been, never was," said Cohan. "She's not an abused animal. She's just lost and scared."

Angeletti said Niobe had been well-trained by her previous owner. She had recently had a litter of puppies, and Angeletti speculated that she may have run away to look for them.

Cohan has consulted a dog behaviourist about the best way to approach the dog.

She said that if people see Niobe, they should crouch down, turn sideways and talk in a calm voice.

Cohan said that 9-1-1 dispatchers regularly take calls about lost dogs, which they direct to the non-emergency line.

Call centre staff often connect dog searchers with dog finders. Dispatchers also give police officers a heads-up about missing dogs, as they may bump into them during regular patrols.

Angeletti said he was looking forward to having Niobe back home.

"We have the best home you could imagine for an animal," said Angeletti. "We've got a big yard. I'm a web designer, so I'm always home, and the dog would get lots of attention. . . . It's too bad she didn't stick around, because we have a lot of love to give."

North Shore residents can call the West Vancouver SPCA at 604-922-4622 or the District of North Vancouver Animal Welfare Shelter at 604-990-3711 if they have information about Niobe.

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