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Waddington’s ‘Ghost Dog’ finally captured, finds new home

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WADDINGTON - Approximately two months ago, someone dropped off of a dog in the village of Waddington.

Since that time a number of village residents have been caring for the animal, whom came to be known among other things as “Ghost Dog.”

Among those helping to care for the dog was Karen Thew, of Fenton Street.

“About two months ago, we spotted the dog running loose and I called Jim (Animal Control Officer James Pipher) as soon as I saw him,” she said. “It took us a little while to track him, because he was all over the place at first.”

When the dog was initially dropped off, Ms. Thew said he was thin, but as village residents began caring for him his health improved, although he remained skittish around people.

“Over time he fattened up and then we realized that everybody was feeding him,” Ms. Thew said, adding she then turned to Facebook to ask others to stop feeding him in an effort to help corral the dog, so they could find him a new home.

As others got the message and stopped feeding him, Ms. Thew said the dog began spending more and more time on Fenton Street, but at night he would always return to the same spot.

“During the evening he would go back to the four corners,” she said. “It was almost as if he was waiting for someone to pick him up. Obviously someone dropped him off there.”

When asked to describe him, Ms. Thew said, “He’s a very nice dog. He’s non-aggressive and he likes other animals.”

During the past two months, she said the dog picked up a lot of different names; Ghost Dog, Backyard Dog, Blue, Waddington and Fenton.

“We narrowed it down to Fenton,” she said, “because that’s kind of where he ended up.”

Chris Reagan, who works for the village of Waddington, started calling him “Ghost Dog” several weeks ago. Steve VanPatten, who also works for the village, explained why.

“Everybody was telling us about this dog, but never saw him,” he said. “So we started calling him ghost dog.”

Mr. VanPatten said the fact that the dog was so well cared for over the past couple of months made his capture that much more difficult.

“It’s hard to trap a dog with a full belly,” he said.

Ms. Thew said the dog was trapped Wednesday morning with the assistance of a humane bear trap.

Mr. Pipher said he purchased the cage in an effort to trap the animal in an way that would not harm it. He said he considered the purchase of the cage his “gift to the village.”

“There were some people in town who wanted us to be a little more aggressive, but we decided to take our time,” he said. “He was a friendly dog, and he wasn’t hurting anybody.”

The order to take time with the capture came from Mayor Janet Otto-Cassada.

“I thought taking a slower approach was a more humane way to do it,” she said. “Several citizens were trying their darnedest to capture him in the most humane way possible, so that he wouldn’t have to be put down. As an animal lover I can understand that.”

That being said, Ms. Otto-Cassada said she is glad the ghost dog was captured before this weekend when Waddington celebrates its homecoming.

“One of our concerns as this progressed was, as we have visitors coming, we want our town to be as safe as possible,” she said. “The dog was no harm to humans or animals, so we let it go as long as we could.”

The mayor said she would like to commend the work of Ms. Thew, Katie Lynch, Mr. Pipher, Mr. Reagan and the other civilian volunteers who helped care for and capture the dog over the past two months.

“They went above and beyond and it shows the kind of people we have in Waddington,” she said. “I know he’s going to find a good home and I think that’s the best part of this story.”

Mr. Reagan agreed.

“What’s one more animal?” he said, noting he already has two dogs and a cat. “It’s just me and the animals, so there won’t be a lot of people bothering him.”

At the suggestion of Mary Loomis, a veterinarian who lives in Waddington and who looked the dog over upon his capture, Mr. Reagan left the dog in his cage to allow him time to settle down and get acclimated to his new environment.

“My other dog is out there laying with him,” Mr. Reagan said. “He didn’t want to leave him.”

When asked why he agreed to take in the dog, Mr. Reagan said he couldn’t stand to see an innocent dog put down.

“I didn’t want him to go to the pound. I could tell he was a good dog. He was just scared,” he said. “I know what happens when they take in animals like that.”

Everyone involved said they were happy to see the story of the ghost dog end with a happy ending.

“There are a lot of people who care about that dog.” Ms. Thew said. “He kind of became a community dog. I’m sure we’ll all be keeping tabs on him.”

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