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When Shawn DeAmicis' dog went missing, he didn't just walk the streets yelling her name.
Instead, he chartered a helicopter. And contacted a telemarketing service. And offered a $3,000 reward. And was just about have a detective from Nebraska drive to Chicago to track down his 3-year-old Chow/Shepherd mix, Casey.
“I think it should be obvious what she means to me with how much I’ve invested in her search,” DeAmicis said.
But after employing all those high-tech options, it was a simple flier -- made for free, by a woman who didn't even know DeAmicis -- that helped find his best friend.
"She went crazy when she saw me," DeAmicis said. "She was whining with joy for about a half an hour."
The week-long ordeal began last Sunday, when Casey jumped a four-foot fence at DeAmicis's pet sitter's facility in Berwyn. She took off running into the southwest suburbs.
DeAmicis, an options trader who lives in downtown Chicago, received the call about her escape while visiting his cancer-stricken mother in Boston. He was distraught, and so was his other pet dog, Curtis.
“Curtis wouldn’t even eat a piece of cheese the other day,” DeAmicis said. “They’re like brother and sister.”
After ensuring his mom was doing well -- "She told me to go find my dog," DeAmicis said -- he immediately hopped a flight back home.
He contacted a dog-finding service, Findtoto.com, and instructed them to offer a $3,000 reward for Casey's return. The service began making calls and sending emails to 25,000 homes. Total cost: $2,250.
Not satisfied, DeAmicis then chartered a helicopter from Sun Aero Helicopters in Lansing, Illinois, to canvas the area -- to the tune of $500 per hour.
But the flyovers failed to find Casey and DeAmicis, at his wit's end, was about to hire pet detective Karin TarQwyn, from Nebraska, to come to Chicago and track down his pet. TarQwyn charges $125 an hour.
That's when the phone call came.
A bar patron at The Friendly Tap, a watering hole in Berwyn, said he'd seen DeAmicis's missing dog on a flier above the bar. Casey, the man said, was shacking up with an Oak Park family that he knew.
The flier had come courtesy of one Johanna Roth, a stranger to DeAmicis, who had received one of those Findtoto.com cold calls. Using her expertise from working at Press Tech, a local printing company, Roth made some fliers and sent them to DeAmicis. DeAmicis posted the fliers around Berwyn.
“Before I found Casey, the only good part of this story was all the Samaritans that came forward,” DeAmicis said.
After a few phone calls confirmed that it was Casey, DeAmicis went to get her immediately.
Turns out Casey latched on to a Berwyn woman after her escape from the pet sitter's. She followed the woman, whose name is Tosha, for about an hour, but the woman couldn't take Casey -- who she assumed to be a stray home because she already has a dog. Tosha called another family who contacted the Martin family.
The Martins were the people who eventually returned Casey to an exuberant DeAmicis.
When all was said and done, it wasn't the helicopter or the pet detective or the $3,000 reward -- which the Martins declined to accept -- that led to her return.
It started with a phone call, and ended with the largesse of a stranger.
"She's got some blisters on her feet," DeAmicis said of Casey. "But other than that she's in good condition."
As for DiAmicis mom, turns out she's doing well, too. Her latest tests show her tumor has shrunk. DeAmicis, it seems, could get two holiday gifts this year.