Westminster Competitor Still Missing at Airport

Fourth-ranked Whippet in nation escaped from cage and ran into marshes.

Authorities called off a search for a missing Westminster show dog on Feb. 16, one day after the prize-winning canine escaped from cargo handlers and ran into adjoining marshland at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

As of Friday, co-owners Jil Walton and Paul Lepiane remained in New York in the hopes that the 3-year-old Whippet, Vivi, would emerge to look for people or food. The Long Island Breeders Coalition is conducting its own search for the dog, and airport personnel have been told to stay alert for any sign of Vivi.

I just hope that she’s hiding in the wooded area, said Bo Bengston, Vivis breeder and former editor of Dogs in Review. She’s a very tough, calm, sensible dog.

Registered as Ch. Bohem Cest la Vie, Vivi won an Award of Merit at the 130th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show earlier in the week.

According to a Newsday report, she escaped just as airport workers were about to load her onto a plane for the flight home to California. Reaching speeds up to 25 mph, workers chased her in three cars, and a police officer got within four feet of her before she plunged into the marsh.

Vivi was wearing a black wool coat and collar with Waltons phone number, and has been microchipped.

Whippets were developed in England about 200 years ago and are related to Greyhounds. They are known for lure coursing and hunting rabbits.

Posted: Feb. 17, 2006, 6 p.m. PST

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