A Furry Vagrant
Is Picked Up in Astoria
By CHARLIE LeDUFF
February 25, 2001
• Astoria Journal: Of Famine and Feast, Kindness and Strangers(Feb. 25, 2001)
|They called from
Los Angeles and Miami. They called from Woodstock, N.Y., and Stamford,
Conn. After reading last Sunday about Abraham the homeless dog who scrounged
on the streets of Queens, they all wanted to help.
There were lifetime offers of food. A woman volunteered to pay his veterinary
bills. One man of means considered sending his driver and limousine in
pursuit of the furry tramp. They were concerned, but their interest ended
with that phone call.
Alan Chin for The New York Times
Mr. Contino, 54, runs a one-man one-dog rescue squad called Mighty Mutts out of his house in Brooklyn. He will take in any dog that needs help, acclimate it to decent society and then place it in a loving home. Mr. Contino now has 18 dogs living in his basement, he said.
It was Thursday afternoon as the snow began to fall when Mr. Contino called The New York Times by cellular phone. "I've been following him for four hours," Mr. Contino said, "but I got him." He was euphoric. "He's one of the smartest dogs I've come across, but I got him."
He cornered Abraham with the help of Clint, his red-nosed pit bull, and then lassoed him with a rod and rope. In the background, shouts and sobs could be heard from a group of neighbors who had fed and protected the dog since his master disappeared three years ago.
"I'm having trouble convincing them that I'm not taking him to the pound," Mr. Contino said. The neighbors sounded as disoriented as the dog.
Since running wild, he has had many different names, none of which he chose. The neighbors called him Abraham, Trixie, Lucky, Poncho. And when the dogcatcher called him, he just ran. A very clever dog.
Now he is named Tommy, rechristened by Mr. Contino in gratitude for a man who helped to trap him. With the neighbors in tow, Tommy was taken to the veterinarian for a checkup.
Tommy has worms and a growth on his right flank, but his teeth are quite good for a dog who has lived outside so long, said Dr. Salvatore J. Pernice of the Brooklyn Veterinary Group in Bensonhurst.
"It's going to take a while to get him used to people," Mr. Contino said. Maybe three months. Maybe a year. "He was tortured living out there on the streets."