LAKELAND, Fla. — Loud explosions scared a small dog out of its yard after the Fourth of July.
The search for a family pet is now spanning across three Tampa Bay counties.
Kristy Leto and her family have searched for their pup more than 60 miles away in Polk County.
“He’s a great dog,” Leto said about her family’s beloved pet Otis. “He’s a little shy of strangers at first and then so sweet and kind.”
The 8-year-old Italian Greyhound mix was home with a pet sitter while the family went on vacation for the Fourth of July.
Leto said fireworks and a series of loud explosions set off by a neighbor likely sent Otis running away in fear.
“It is so unlike him to leave home,” Leto said.
Leto said her family found where Otis dug under the fence and after days of searching were shocked to learn their dog ended up more than a mile away at the Bradenton Motor Sports Park.
“At first they told us no one could catch him because he’s so fast and a little shy of strangers,” Leto said.
After talking to as many people as she could find, Leto found a blurry photo of Otis in the car with a racecar driver from the dragstrip.
“I thought he was safe, I was so relieved,” Leto said.
However, after even more digging and finally tracking the driver to his home in southwest Lakeland, Leto said she received more heartbreaking news: Otis had escaped again.
“He put him in the garage for the evening, had cracked the garage door a little for ventilation and didn’t realize Otis could get through very small spaces and woke up in the morning and Otis was gone.”
Now the family is starting again from scratch. They are putting up new lost dog signs southwest of Lakeland near the Washington Estates neighborhood where the dog was last seen. So far there have been no sightings.
While the situation may seem hopeless the Letos aren’t giving up yet. They said they’re hopeful the public can help find their dog who remains lost so far away.
“I feel like maybe he’s looking for home,” Leto said. “Maybe he’s lost and really kind of going further than what is typical dog behavior because he’s trying to get home.”
Otis was not wearing a collar but is microchipped. The family is hopeful the public will share Otis’ picture and description on social media.
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