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Dog lovers clamor to take Shasta home


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 8, 1998

ST PETERSBURG -- Animal lovers have flooded telephone lines, seeking medical updates and a chance to adopt Shasta, the female Rottweiler who survived a 197-foot fall from the top of Sunshine Skyway bridge early Wednesday.

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The dog's owner, John P. Radd, 44, of Mulberry in Polk County, died after jumping from the span. Radd's family declined to take Shasta, preferring to place the animal for adoption, said Beth Lockwood, executive director of the Pinellas County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Lockwood said Shasta is suffering from neurological damage to her front right paw and that she expects the animal to be at the Largo Veterinary Hospital for several weeks. Meanwhile, the SPCA is taking names of animal lovers who want to adopt the 7-year-old canine.

"In the past two days, we took about 300 calls on the dog," saidLockwood. "We have an application process (for those seeking to adopt Shasta). They have to own their own home, no children under 15 because of the breed and the age, have a fenced-in yard and be home all of the time. We will sort through the applications one by one.

"We're telling everyone, "Yes this dog has a good story, but we have about 100 dogs up for adoption,' " she said. "Every animal has its own story. It's not as sensational as this one. They all need homes."

Roseann Coletto, a nurse at the veterinary hospital, said close to 40 people have called inquiring about Shasta's well-being. "They all want to adopt the dog," said Coletto. "She's doing very well."

A St. Petersburg veterinarian on a fishing trip plucked Shasta from the heavy currents underneath the Skyway around 7 a.m. Wednesday and quickly administered first aid to the animal.

Police found the dog's collar and leash in Radd's car on the bridge. It's still unclear whether the animal pursued her master 197 feet down to the water or if she was carried with him or thrown over the side before he jumped.

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