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It’s not the first time lifelong city resident Lori Dell Limone has rescued a lost pooch and likely won’t be the last
The story of Christmas, at least this story of this particular Christmas, begins on Facebook.
That’s where Lori Dell Limone, a 50-year-old lifelong Temple Terrace resident, does some of her best work.
There was a dog. Tan colored, pointed ears, jittery. Lori’s sister saw it in her front yard one day. And then, it was gone.
Lori, a member of the “Temple Terrace Bulletin Board” Facebook group, decided to go online and see if anyone else had seen the dog. And they had.
Here. There. Everywhere, it seemed, in the area around East 113th Avenue and Gillette Avenue, near Greco Middle School.
The dog’s most interesting characteristic — half of a leash hanging from its neck like a tie. Some started referring to it as the “dog with the leash”.
Pictures were taken. Post after post, comment after comment: I just saw it!
The dog with the leash, however, refused to let anyone come close, and cellphone photos from a distance were the best anyone could do.
The “Temple Terrace Bulletin Board” called on Lori to help capture the dog, get it to safety. She is, after all, the unofficial Temple Terrace Dog Whisperer. The Canine Conservator. The Puppy Protector.
Four years ago, she achieved some Facebook fame when she came across two dogs that had been dumped behind the old Big Top Flea Market on Fowler Avenue, and spent two weeks with a friend on the hunt before trapping them.
“Ever since,” she says, “I get tagged in all the dog posts.”
This summer, she helped save Scooby, who became Facebook famous. Scooby was tracked down at Riverhills Park on Memorial Day, and was chipped, but the owner never came to pick him up. After some time at the Pet Resource Center in Brandon, he was placed on the euthanasia list.
Lori pleaded on Facebook for a miracle. She was there at the PRC the day Scooby was going to be put down, waiting for someone, sick to her stomach. She can only have one pet at the townhouse where she lives, a slot filled by 2½-year-old Penny. She was contemplating taking Scooby, and figuring it out later.
Luckily, someone saw a post on Facebook, walked in and saved Scooby. Lori got to watch him get taken from the shelter to his forever home. She waved goodbye, relieved, and quite a few in the Temple Terrace Facebook group likely let out a collective sigh of relief.
“That’s the power of never giving up,” she said.
• • •
Lori doesn’t work for a rescue. In fact, she is a family intervention specialist, working with parents whose children are in the child welfare system.
She has a soft spot for canines, however. She is a strong proponent of adopting over shopping, and getting your dog chipped, and she volunteers at the PRC when she can. The county facility has a program called Adventure Tails, where you can take out a shelter dog for the day to give them some fresh air and a reprieve from their cage.
Recently, she was part of a group that took 20-25 dogs out for the day to Lettuce Lake Park.
That’s Lori Dell Limone.
Along the way, she has developed some rescue skills, made some relationships with people who have traps, and knows her way around dogs.
Her analysis of the new dog in town?
“I felt like she had been dumped, because, typically, a lost dog will just keep wandering, trying to figure out where it’s supposed to be going,” Lori said. “But a dumped dog will usually stay in the same area and just circle back around, like waiting for somebody to come back for him.“
So she started focusing on the dog with the leash’s routine. What times it showed up and where. The “Temple Terrace Bulletin Board” Facebook group continued to post tips and updates for weeks.
“We saw it a week ago and couldn’t catch it!”
“It just ran past me.”
“Just saw this dog about 10 minutes ago.”
Sharon Usry assured the Facebook group that workers in the area had been feeding it, and that she had fed the dog a can of Vienna sausages. “She ate the sausage out of my hand!”
The dog, however, was not interested in the peanut butter she offered, and efforts to catch the dog continued to come up short.
“This pup sure is a little rascal,” wrote Jessica Ogden.
Advice poured in, along with heart emojis. Someone suggested naming the dog Sandy. Another commentor joked that the dog may end up being the central character in a Hallmark movie.
“Just a bunch of really caring people that look out for each other are looking out for the best and well-being of the community and for the animals,” Lori said. “It’s a great group of people.”
• • •
Lori says dogs are creatures of habit, predictable even. At the same time every night, the dog would visit the same vacant lot, and every morning would circle back to the lot.
Soon, Lori had a plan.
“You map it out. And you can see exactly what she does,” Lori said. “She got up in the morning, she would go to the lot. Then she’d go hang out in the back of Greco because there are agricultural animals back there. I think there’s a pony back there, she would hang out back there. Then she’d wander off for a little while. I’m not sure exactly where she was then. But then every night, she would come right back to the same spot that lot.”
Lori and a friend started leaving out food for the dog at night. They asked everyone else in the Facebook group to stop feeding the dog and trying to catch it, so it would be hungry and go to the spot where Lori had left food.
The dog would have to be hungry enough to wander into a trap to eat.
The trap was set. And a night camera, like something that would normally be used by hunters, was installed nearby. And Lori would be at home watching television or reading or eating and her phone would alert her to something near the trap.
Sometimes, it was an opossum. Other times a cat, or a racoon. At least twice a night for almost a week, she had to drive to the spot, about 10 minutes from her home, to free those other animals from the trap and replace the food.
“I was determined,” Lori said. “I’m not going to give up once I start something. I’m not going to stop.”
The dog tried to get the food once, but backed out because either the trap was too small, or she sensed some danger.
Lori replaced the trap with a larger one.
The day before Thanksgiving, the dog was hungry. She was smart, too. She clenched the trap from the back side and tried to shake the food free. When that didn’t work, her belly left her no choice, so she entered from the front. The gate closed behind her.
Lori and her friend Heath Bodden excitedly hopped in his car and drove to pick up their catch. The dog was timid, but calm. The leash that had dangled like a tie was part of a retractable leash that had been chewed through, so Lori assumed the dog had been left somewhere tied up.
They drove the dog to the Veterinary Emergency Group on East Bearss Avenue, where the dog was scanned and discovered not to be chipped.
Because it was the night before Thanksgiving, most of the available dog services were closed. So the vet kept the dog all weekend, until animal control could pick it up and take it to the PRC on Monday.
• • •
Members of the Facebook group had become emotionally invested in the dog and were thrilled it had been caught and clamored for more updates. Lori happily reported that the dog was safe, and she tried to spread the news as far as she could to the many dog rescues and friends of dog rescues that followed her on the social media app.
At the PRC, they determined the dog was American Staffordshire Terrier mix, or according to some, a more even-tempered and affectionate version of a pit bull terrier.
“I don’t think it’s correct,” Lori said, “because she has the one green eye and one blue eye. She looks more Huskie or Shepherd mix to me, but that’s what they have her labeled as.”
The dog, 2 years old and 57 pounds, has already had one meet and greet. She was timid during its meet and greet but allowed some petting after a while. She accepted snacks. Timid in the yard, she soon relaxed and knew how to play fetch, dropping the ball near the thrower so they could pick it up and toss it again.
Some members of the group, like CherylAnn Haley, visited the dog, and posted pictures.
“I’m not going to forget about her,” Lori said. “Now it’s just share, share, share (on social media), trying to find her a home or a foster and get her out of the shelter. Hopefully, all the other Temple Terrace people are doing the same. As hard as we worked to get her, now we’ve really got to work harder to get her into a safe forever home.”
Oh, and of course they had to give the dog a name when she was checked in, and chose one perfect for the holidays.
This is her story.