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Jan 14, 2009 12:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Francis hopes to find a new home in the new year

Jan 14, 2009 12:27 PM

After enduring a rocky beginning to her life—a broken leg, and abandonment that forced her to live on the streets—Francis hopes to be given a fresh start in the new year.

But it now appears that the 1-year-old labrador-terrier mix’s dream has hit a temporary stumbling block after a local animal activist, who was instrumental in rescuing the dog last month after she was going to be euthanized, took back Francis after she had spent six days in late December with a Southampton family that had hoped to adopt her.

Gina Arresta, her husband, Lou, and their two sons, 13-year-old Dominic and 11-year-old Louis, had agreed to care for the puppy for 11 days on a trial basis and said they immediately grew attached to Francis. The Arrestas said they had originally hoped to make the dog, which they have since renamed Maddie, a permanent part of their Southampton home.

“She is a survivor and an inspiration,” Ms. Arresta said of the dog. “Look at her and the way she survived and keeps a positive attitude.”

Southampton resident and animal activist Pat Lynch, who has been charged with Francis’s care and originally found a willing adopter in the Arrestas, said this week that she is hesitant to permanently entrust the dog with the family, explaining that Francis had escaped from their home on Christmas Day.

“She lost the dog,” Ms. Lynch said of Ms. Arresta. “The dog almost got killed on Montauk Highway.”

Ms. Arresta explained that while her son Louis held open the front door Christmas morning while talking with his older brother, the pooch slipped past him and ventured into their front yard. The dog, which was not injured, was back in the home in less than 10 minutes, according to Ms. Arresta.

“I feel awful about it,” said Ms. Arresta, noting that Louis is heartbroken over losing the dog.

Ms. Arresta said her family was supposed to care for Francis from December 22 until New Year’s Day, when they were scheduled to leave for a skiing trip. However, Ms. Lynch decided, after being informed by Ms. Arresta that Francis had briefly escaped from the home, to pick up the dog on December 28 and have her checked out by Dr. Jonathan Turetsky at the Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton.

Ms. Arresta stressed that Francis was given a clean bill of health and that her life was never in danger.

Dr. Turetsky, who is on vacation and could not be reached for comment this week, had fixed Francis’s broken leg last month, after she was picked up as a stray, according to Ms. Lynch.

On Monday, Ms. Lynch said the Arrestas were not her ideal candidates to adopt Francis. “I would love an older couple,” she said, “or someone who works from home.”

Ms. Arresta said she was upset when Ms. Lynch took the dog back ahead of time without offering her family an explanation. Additionally, Ms. Arresta said it was unfair of Ms. Lynch to string her family along in the adoption process. “It seems as if she’s looking for something better,” Ms. Arresta said. “It’s very hard to foster an animal like this and then give the dog back.”

Additionally, she stressed that her family was up to the challenge of raising the dog. “Like my son Dominic said, ‘It’s really hard taking care of Maddie, but it is worth it,’” she said.

The 40-pound dog was found limping through the streets of Riverhead Town with a broken hind leg in early December. Although the cause of the injury remains unknown, it appeared to be a wound caused by a baseball bat. The dog was captured by Riverhead Town Animal Control last month and brought to the Riverhead Town Animal Shelter.

According to Ms. Lynch, a veterinarian who had examined Francis at the Riverhead Town shelter had determined that the best course of action would be humane euthanasia. Members of the Riverhead Shelter Volunteer Program (RSVP), a Riverhead-based rescue organization, were then notified of Francis’s situation and intervened on her behalf. The care of Francis, who was given only a number when first dropped off at the shelter, was then entrusted to Ms. Lynch, who volunteered to find the dog a permanent home.

Noting that she could not adopt Francis herself—Ms. Lynch already owns three dogs, two of which can become aggressive when around other dogs—Ms. Lynch said that her mission continues to be finding a permanent home for the canine.

Ten days after her arrival at the Riverhead shelter, Francis was brought to Dr. Turetsky at the Veterinarian Clinic of East Hampton. After an examination, Dr. Turetsky determined that Francis would be able to walk again if he surgically repaired her femur, as the bone had already started to heal improperly. Ms. Lynch then enlisted the help of Gail Waller, who paid for the nearly $2,000 surgery that was performed by Dr. Turetsky for a discounted price on December 16.

“There is no reason to say she won’t have a full recovery,” Dr. Turetsky said during a recent interview. He noted that, despite her checkered past, Francis remains trusting and gentle toward humans. “She’s a very affectionate, friendly and exuberant dog,” he said. “She is not afraid of people.”

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If this family is willing to give this dog a loving home they should be allowed to adopt the dog. They obviouly learned a lesson and sound like they will provide a good home for this dog. There are so many homeless animals that need attention and someone shouldn't be told they can't adopt for one incident.
By animallover (2), southampton on Jan 14, 09 2:42 PM
The Arresta family often cares for my dog while I am out of town. He absolutely loves going to their home and comes back exhausted from all of the playing and attention they give him. Any dog would be lucky to get adopted by the Arresta family! What a shame! (Lucky for me and my dog, though!)
By laur913 (1), Southampton on Jan 14, 09 8:05 PM
So let me see if I got this right...a family takes this injured and abused dog into their home, cares for, feeds, loves, and plays with the dog and they should not be the adopted family? umm....and this is all because the dog snuck out of the house??? So, my question to Ms. Lynch is what should we do about all the pet owners who lose their pets on occasion or parents who lose their kids for a few minutes. We'll take them all away from these imperfect people and put them in orphanges and dog ...more
By golfnut (1), flanders on Jan 14, 09 8:47 PM
I have known the Arresta family for over 15 years. They are very active in their church and community. I have also left my 10 year old son in their care on many occasions. I couldn't think of a better family to adopt Maddie than the Arrestas. I such a shame that even when you try to do the right thing, you still have to deal with such obstacles. I don't know of anyone personally (including myself) who hasn't had their dogs or pets get loose at one time or another. I can't help but wonder, Mrs. ...more
By nadine (1), southampton on Jan 15, 09 1:33 PM
I work in the community and have drove past pat lynches house several times noticing a sign on the fence to "close the gate there are dog's". what is funny to me is she will trust complete stranger's to be responsible to close the gate and she think's she can't trust the arresta's. She commented she "lost the dog" so it should be taken away, well pat lynch lost her mind so should we send her away? "maddie almost got killed" by who ? who saw this ,no one
once again Pat Lynch spoke too soon. ...more
By french drain (1), southampton on Jan 15, 09 2:00 PM
I don't know of anyone who has a pet (cat or dog) who hasn't had them slip out once in a while, and whether she admits it or not, I'm sure it's happened to Mrs Lynch. I don't know the Arrestas, but from the other comments, they sound like the perfect family to adopt Maddie. It sounds like Mrs Lynch has more authority than she can handle. Some people get very arrogant when given some power- I hope Dr. Turetsky has the sense to overule her. I'll bet that - if she had a choice -Maddie would pick ...more
By Avatar (15), Westhampton Beach on Jan 17, 09 1:03 AM
Wow - Ms. Lynch's sense of self importance is spectacular. Bottom line is to get the dog adopted to a good home. The Arrestas are a wonderful family, as I'm sure Maddie would agree. It is ironic that many rescues/shelters require fenced-in yards, background & reference checks for dogs that were thrown away, while anyone can go to a pet store and get a puppymill dog without getting personally judged or attacked. No one is perfect and it is often easier to get a job or credit card than to adopt an ...more
By doggygirl (1), bridgehampton on Jan 20, 09 12:03 PM
Where I come from we have kids living on streets, not just animals. They don' t have anyone to take care of them. The Arresta's were just trying to help out an animal. Judging people just because of a small incidente will not solve the problem for this dog. It sounds like Mrs. Lynch has more to say about the Arrestas than about the dog.I know the Arresta's ,and I know how big their hearts are and what good people they are. About the pool as you know dogs are good swimmers and they are not stupid ...more
By Jasmim (2), Brazil on Jan 25, 09 6:18 PM
Pat Lynch is out of line and out of touch. While I do not know this family, the circumstances were innocent and could happen to anyone. Pat Lynch would like to find the puppy a home with an older couple?? That is a very bad matchup and poor judgement - a puppy should be with a family ... the elderly are no match for the energy of a puppy. Ms. Lynch needs a reality check - she may mean well, but she is way off base here. Give the dog back to the family.
By pkf242 (6), Watermill on Feb 12, 09 1:11 PM
I worked with Lou Arresta for ten years at Pastor Chevrolet in Westhampton. I met his wife Gina and their two boys on many occasions. As a college educated professional, I believe I am a good judge of character. This doggie was cheated out of the opportunity of a lifetime, to be adopted by the Arresta family. Being part of the Arresta family would have been equal to "Maddie" winning the doggie lottery. SHAME ON YOU PAT LYNCH!
By Finance Manager (1), Brookhaven on Mar 9, 09 3:24 PM
What a shame that a dog that needed some TLC was robbed of just that. Maddie had been through quite an ordeal and wouldn't it have been a fairy tale ending for her to have stayed with the Arresta's. I quess Pat Lynch does not believe in fairy tales. I am a happy to say I have a dog and three boys that adore her and she them. We adopted our dog as a puppy and over the years she has scooted out the front door and I am certainly glad Pat Lynch was not outside my home to take my beloved dog away. As ...more
By Tink (1), Southampton on Mar 16, 09 2:51 PM
I have been fortunate enough to adopt Francis/Maddie/now Sadie into our home on March 23, 2009. I lost my beloved dog to Cushing's disease back in November and my home has been so empty without the love of a dog. I looked for about two weeks in different shelters and saw many dogs that I could have adopted. However, when we went to the Southhampton shelter and saw Frances/Sadie, it was love at first site. She came over to us and gently took food out of my hand, licking, not showing one once ...more
By jobo1254 (1), ronkonkoma on Mar 25, 09 2:02 PM