Warning: This story might contain sentences that might be too heartwarming for some. Reader discretion is advised.
When Sammy, a 1-year-old Jack Russell terrier puppy, got loose from his home in South Ozone Park on Feb. 25, his owners feared he was gone forever. Their fears almost came true when the dog was hurt after being hit by a car on Lefferts Boulevard.
But somehow Sammy survived the hit, and managed to travel along in the dark, cold, busy streets of southern Queens for more than a mile. An hour after he went missing, he turned up — in the left lane of the westbound Belt Parkway near 130th Street — at rush hour.
Wandering the passing line of one of the city’s busiest highways at one of the busiest times would be a death sentence for most men, let alone a small dog, but the drivers of two vehicles whose paths Sammy hobbled into saw the injured pup and hit the brakes.
One of those drivers was Howard Beach resident Adrienne Lasaponara, on her way home from her job in Lynbrook, Nassau County. She spotted the dog, immediately noticed it was hurt, and jumped in to help.
“I saw this little white dog running in the small shoulder in the left lane,” she said. “I immediately put on my flashers; the truck next to me did the same.”
Lasaponara said she opened her minivan’s doors and Sammy jumped in . She examined him and noticed his leg was bleeding and he had road rash. She knew the dog needed help.
“There’s really no place to bring your dog at six o’clock at night,” she said.
Luckily, Lasaponara knew someone who could help. She has done pro-bono work for Yorkie911, a rescue group based in Suffolk County. She arranged to transport Sammy to Yorkie911’s Suffolk County facility for treatment.
In the meantime, she went ahead to try to find Sammy’s owners, posting that she found the dog on Facebook.
A friend of Lasaponara’s read a post from one of Sammy’s owners — 19-year-old Sangeeta Teakram of South Ozone Park — asking for help in finding their lost Jack Russell.
“We were trying to search for him,” Teakram said. “We were out on the street screaming for him on every block.”
Teakram, who has been battling a painful form of cancer, said Sammy had gotten loose and her father had seen him getting struck by the car and couldn’t catch him as he ran. She was devastated.
“Let’s just say he’s the only one who can get me to talk or go outside when I’m sad and in pain,” Teakram said. “Sammy is a part of the family. When I lost him, it was my worst nightmare.”
She said Sammy not only gives her company, but has helped her with certain tasks, even bringing her a hairbrush when she needed to brush her hair.
Lasaponara reached out to Teakram’s parents through Facebook to let them know she had found a similar dog and they met at Lasaponara’s Howard Beach home last week, where Teakram was reunited with Sammy.
“It was obviously their dog,” Lasaponara said.
Teakram said she didn’t know she was going to see her dog.
“My dad told me we were going to get a musical instrument,” she said. “When I went inside, I saw Sammy. I dropped to the floor. I couldn’t talk.”
As it turns out Teakram and Lasaponara have something in common. Lasaponara said she was diagnosed with melanoma last summer and immediately understood how important that made Sammy to his owner.
“Anytime you hear ‘the C word,’ it’s scary,” she said.
Now Sammy is back home with Teakram and is doing well.
“He’s going to live a very long life now,” Lasaponara said. “The connection between our recoveries — It’s interesting.”