More than three weeks ago, a little dog named Ruffles went missing from her home near Cheltenham Avenue. Her human family has not stopped searching since.
The small, cream-colored Affenpinscher was being prepared for a morning walk with her owner Erin Lipson on Feb. 7 when she slipped through the front door, ran outside and disappeared right across the city limits from East Oak Lane in Cheltenham Twp.
That morning, Lipson called her mother, Rhonda Pearson of West Mt. Airy.
“I rushed over,” said Pearson. “We started to make posters and contact everyone we could think of — shelters, vets, the SPCA.”
Seeking help via flyers and the web
In fact, hundreds of posters have been made and placed at local businesses, bus stops, intersections, schools, firehouses, the police station and the local SPCA.
They even started a “Find Ruffles” page on Facebook seeking help from kind strangers. While they haven’t resulted in Ruffles safe return, the posters have drawn a slew of calls, some bogus and others that leave the family hopeful.
Pearson said Wednesday night that the latest update came through a call from a 10-year-old who said she saw Ruffles, a Humane Society rescue, running around near her East Oak Lane elementary school.
To Lipson’s three-year-old son Zachary, Ruffles is a very important member of the family. Lipson has a collection of clothes and collars for Ruffles; Pearson said she is “glued to her daughter’s side at all times.”
This summer, the seven-year-old pooch survived an attack by a pitbull. Her subsequent recovery was a great relief.
One of the groups Pearson has since contacted is Justice Rescue, an animal welfare organization. The group initially printed posters of the missing dog, but their efforts later fizzled. They told Pearson they mostly focus on rescuing abused animals.
The family has also given pictures of Ruffles to local animal shelters in the hope that they will find her on the streets.
“I don’t want my grandson to miss his friend,” Pearson said. “I try to go on any leads that I can.”
Cold-hearted prank calls
Pearson said she has gotten numerous phone calls about the whereabouts of Ruffles, many of which have been scams.
“One woman called me and told me she hit the dog and that she was dead at the intersection of Broad and Olney,” said Pearson. “I ran down there and I talked to people; all for nothing!
In another case, a caller claimed he had information about the dog’s location but wouldn’t give it up for less than $80.
The family said they will keep at it until they get some answers and ask anyone who has seen Ruffles to call (215) 400-1639. They’re offering a “generous reward.”
“Some people think it’s just a dog, but she’s a member of our family,” she said. “Every day I say to myself I can’t do this anymore, but still, I keep at it.”