Katy Harmon, a 28-year-old teacher, last saw Estella, a 5-year-old deer head Chihuahua, in-person on July 23. That was the day that Harmon, who fosters dogs through Peppertree Rescue in Albany, dropped Estella off with an adoptive family in Ballston Spa.
A day later, Harmon got a text message from the family saying Estella had gone missing.
Estella came to Peppertree and to Harmon from Texas, where Estella, seven other Chihuahuas and a Shih Tzu had been living in a home until the owner died, Harmon said. The nine dogs were taken to a shelter in Texas, which contacted Peppertree about taking them in. When Estella arrived at Peppertree, her leg was so mangled it needed $4,000 worth of surgery to put the knee back in its socket — a procedure that had been scheduled with a specialist and was going to be paid for by Peppertree, Harmon said.
Harmon, who fostered 139 dogs prior to Estella and lived with the chihuahua for three months before the adoption, said Estella was a loveable, clingy dog. When Harmon tried to work on her laptop on the couch, Estella often stood on top of her.
“She is the sweetest little dog. She is very scared, but once she loves you she clings to you like a spider monkey,” Harmon said. She said the new owners were told that Estella always had to be on a leash or be kept in a confined space where she couldn’t escape. Instead, Harmon explained, the adoptive family left the door open while unloading groceries, and Estella took off. Despite her bum leg, Estella is still speedy, Harmon said.
Harmon said she immediately drove to Ballston Spa to help find Estella, but the search was fruitless. Animal control, traps and pet search experts were no use. Harmon posted signs about Estella, and three days later she got a call from a passerby who thought she saw Estella on East High Street in Ballston Spa. The caller explained that another person, who was driving a “very nice dark blue or black four-door” was picking up a dog that looked like Estella. The caller figured that other motorist would call Harmon soon.
About a month later, Harmon posted signs declaring a cash reward for Estella. There were many calls, but none of them were legitimate, Harmon said.
So it seemed Estella might be lost forever. That is, until the night before Thanksgiving when Harmon got a call about a possible Estella sighting at the intersection of Vrooman Avenue and Edward Street in Amsterdam. The caller even shared a video that showed a tiny female deer head Chihuahua with the same red collar and the same silver square name tag Estella had. When Harmon visited the site the next day, she saw a dark blue vehicle nearby and left flyers at the home where the car was parked. She hasn’t received any phone calls.
She’s since upped the reward to $1,000.
The Ballston Spa family that adopted Estella is no longer searching for her, Harmon says, but she is very much hoping that if someone has Estella that they call Harmon and return the dog.
Harmon said in all her time fostering dogs, she has never had one go missing. She says she currently has Estella’s brother Tiny Tim, and she’d like to take Estella back in — this time permanently.
“My family is completely devastated,” she said. Harmon says she is still offering a $1,000, no-questions-asked reward for whoever returns Estella.
“We just want to know that she’s OK.”
To report an Estella sighting, call Katy Harmon at 518-772-7057.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.
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