Service Dog Found, Animal Services Tells the Story
Read the note from Riverside County Animal Services in its entirety
This is a note written by John Welsh, Senior Public Information Specialist, of the Riverside County Animal Services
Media Reps & Friends of Riverside County Animal Services:
Kipper the Service Dog is back in the loving embrace of Dominic Cumo, the 9-year-old boy whose Shih Tzu helps him every day as he deals with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Dominic’s parents have said that Kipper has already saved Dominic three times by alerting the family when Dominic is having trouble breathing.
A team of Riverside County Animal Services employees canvased a neighborhood near where the short-clipped, brown-and-white, 4-year-old Kipper had gone missingnight (May 6) in Cathedral City. The family appealed to the community by appearing on KMIR (Palm Desert-based NBC affiliate) last night with anchor Elizabeth Beaubien. (A link to that story is below.)
Matteo and Shawnee Cumo, who live part time in Apple Valley and the Coachella Valley, own property in the Cathedral City and were speaking with some of their tenants when children in the neighborhood greeted Dominic and Kipper. Amid the distraction, the dog went missing. Shawnee said she believes someone may have actually took the dog and walked off when the couple got distracted.
Riverside County Animal Services sent a team this morning to the area in Cathedral City near Avenida Juarez and Aliso Road.
Two of those employees, Amir Rhynes and Jesus Centeno, got a lead when employees of a nearby nail salon said that a man had just been by the shop about thirty minutes earlier, “trying to sell a dog for $60.”
The dog, the nail salon employees said, matched the photos on a flier Rhynes and Centeno were distributing. With that information, the two men started checking with other businesses when they came across the man sitting outside a Stater Bros. supermarket at Ramon Road, just east of Date Palm Drive. – just several blocks away from the neighborhood where the dog disappeared.
Rhynes told the man to hand the dog over and the man complied. Lt. Rene Rosa of Riverside County Animal Services took down the man’s information. The man appears to be a transient.
Due to his immediate cooperation, Animal Services is not seeking any legal actions against the man.
Shortly after finding the dog, Lt. Rosa and Rhynes and the rest of the team grouped together and handed Kipper to Dominic. The dog seemed to know he was getting very close to Dominic as Lt. Rosa drove over to the location where he last saw the family, Lt. Rosa said. “He practically leaped out of my lap!” he said.
As he was about to hand him over, Kipper was yelping as if to say, “hurry up!” Rosa said.
Dominic’s parents said they were thrilled to see Kipper returned to their son, who turns 10 on, his mother said.
“You guys were like mad dogs out there,” Shawnee Cumo said. “I kept seeing your officers pass by. I just felt such great support from you guys.”
Riverside County Animal Services handles retrieving thousands of lost and stray pets each year. It is not common that a special unit heads out searching for one lost pet.
“But this case was unique,” Director Robert Miller said. “Clearly this young boy needs his pet. It assists him in a very critical way. Getting Kipper back to Dominic as fast as we could was something all of us believed to be a priority. It’s rather surprising how quickly it all happened. This is one of those days where we can all smile. And seeing Dominic smile in that photo was certainly something we’ll remember for a long time.”
Thank you for reading.
With Warm Regards,
KMIR Channel 6 (the NBC affiliate in Palm Desert) did this piece about Kipper and Dominic last night: