Vivi, the champion whippet missing in Queens since Feb. 15, has been spotted again, travelling east in Bayside. If she’s found, it could mean a more secure future for an Ozone Park based rescue group and shelter.
Bobbi & the Strays, led by Bobbi Giordano, has been rescuing abandoned and lost dogs and cats for years. Many of the animals are put in foster homes with the rest staying at the Kennedy Airport Vetport, in space that Giordano rents.
But it’s always a struggle for enough room, buying supplies and paying for visits to local veterinarians. “They are good to us,” she said of the veterinarians, “but we still have to pay for spay and neutering.”
Giordano relies on volunteers to care for the animals at the Vetport and those that keep animals at their homes. But there is a limit. “We need more space. I now have three abandoned puppies in one cage,” she said.
That’s why finding Vivi could prove to be a godsend for Bobbi & the Strays. Since the dog has been missing, its California owners and trainers have organized fundraisers. Others, wanting to help, have sent in donations for the dog’s rescue.
Vivi was lost at Kennedy Airport when her cage somehow opened on the tarmac and she disappeared. The California dog was on her way home after competing in the annual Westminster Dog Show in Manhattan.
A fundraiser to cover expenses for Vivi’s recovery was held at the Garden City Hotel and approximately $7,000 was raised.
According to Bonnie Folz, a search coordinator who lives in Howard Beach, money raised goes into a special fund to be used for expenses. Any money left over will go to Bobbi & the Strays and the Little Shelter in Huntington.
Since Bobbi & the Strays is a nonprofit organization, any Vivi donations are filtered through the group. Folz estimates up to $5,000 has been received so far. “But there are expenses like buying supplies for the fliers, phone bills and paying for a helicopter to search for Vivi,” she said.
Giordano, whose volunteers have also been involved in Vivi rescue efforts, says she believes the dog is alive and hopes she will be rescued soon. She is also hopeful that some money will come her way.
“We need an office and more room for the animals,” she said. “Our lease was renewed for another year at the Vetport, but we are hurting for space.”
Rick Patterson, who is the fiance of Vivi’s co owner, Jil Walton, has been in Queens for over a week looking for the dog. He said the owners and trainers have not given up on finding Vivi and are so appreciative of the help they’ve gotten.
“We couldn’t have done it without the committed volunteers. I can’t say enough about the support,” Patterson said.
Meanwhile, rescue attempts are centering on Bayside and points east. “Vivi is travelling in a wide circle around a green belt,” Folz said. “There were two authenticated sightings in Bayside last Friday so we are concentrating there and east.”
Over the last month, Vivi was first seen in Bayside, then Fresh Meadows, Flushing, College Point and Whitestone. She now appears to be heading back east. Report any sightings immediately to (877) JFK VIVI or (917) 647 4848. Do not chase the dog or call her by name.
“We are trying to be proactive and anticipate where she will be next,” Folz said.
This weekend, volunteers will be handing out fliers at the Bayside Long Island Rail Road station and the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. “It is always better to get the word out personally,” she said.
Donations to the Vivi recovery effort should be sent to Bobbi & the Strays, 3392 Bay Front Pl., Baldwin, NY 11510 and specify it’s for Vivi. To learn more about Bobbi & the Strays, call (718) 845 0779 or 917 213 9840.