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East County Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 6 months ago

Canine treat ready for New Year's Day in Lakewood Ranch

Good Samaritans return lost dog to Polo Club residents.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Polo Club residents Myrna and Jeremy Whatmough ended 2018 with heavy hearts, but started 2019 with joy and gratitude.

Approximately 9 p.m. Dec. 31, their 2-year-old Airedale terrier, Reagan, had run off. In just over three hours, though, Reagan was safe at home.

“It’s unreal,” Jeremy Whatmough said of finding Reagan. “I can’t thank people enough for stopping to help.”

The Whatmoughs had let their four Airedale terriers — Reagan, Walker, Ellie and Redford — out for their evening playtime in the backyard. But when Jeremy Whatmough let the dogs back in, Reagan was missing. He had escaped from the invisible, electric fence.

“He’s never tested the fence before,” said Myrna Whatmough, who believes Reagan might have been spooked by fireworks. “It was a total surprise.”

Just after midnight, the phone rang. Lakewood Ranch resident Emma Vitolo had their dog.

She and her husband, Kevin Hower, were on their way home from a New Year’s Eve party when they pulled over on Lorraine Road, just south of University Parkway. There, a handful of motorists had pulled off in an attempt to catch Reagan. Unlike the others, Vitolo and Hower had a leash and treats.

Emma Vitolo lured Reagan with the treats and slipped on the leash. Jeremy Whatmough arrived within minutes.

“If it wasn’t for (those who helped), he wouldn’t be here today,” Jeremy Whatmough said.

“It’s unbelievable,” Myrna Whatmough said of getting Reagan back. “He came home, and he was a happy camper.”

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