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Home quest resumes for dog hurt in bridge fall


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 15, 1998

LARGO -- The Rottweiler who survived a fall from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge last week is gaining international fame, but the acclaim hasn't gotten Shasta any closer to finding a home.

Sherry Danella of Tampa, the ex-girlfriend of Shasta's former owner, has decided to let someone else adopt the dog after determining that her mobile home park is too small, said Beth Lockwood, executive director of the Pinellas County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"She loves the dog enough to let go," Lockwood said. "This dog can have a great home if someone is willing to care for it."

Shasta's plight has caught the attention of shock-jock Howard Stern, the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Canadian news media, Lockwood said. All have called to ask about how Shasta came to be where she is, in a Largo veterinary hospital.

It happened the morning of May 6 when Shasta's owner, John D. Radd, 44, of Lakeland, jumped to his death from the Sunshine Skyway. Somehow, the dog also fell from the span, though it will never be known whether Radd carried his beloved dog with him.

Shasta was lucky. A St. Petersburg veterinarian happened to be passing under the bridge on a fishing trip just a short time after the fall. He grabbed the dog from the water and began to treat her immediately. Shasta suffered neurological damage to her front right paw.

Within days, two owners, both claiming to have paperwork, came forward to claim the dog. Lockwood soon realized Radd had two female Rottweilers named Shasta. The original Rottweiler died several years ago. Veterinarian records proved that Danella had once cared for the canine.

Lockwood had hoped to place the animal with Danella, pending word from the mobile home park. But after reviewing the premises and speaking with the owner Thursday, all sides agreed that Shasta needed a new home.

Lockwood says she has received about 50 applications to adopt the Rottweiler. She intends to reopen the process Monday for any Pinellas County homeowner with the financial means to pay for the dog's veterinary bills.

Potential owners cannot have young children and must have time to perform therapy on the animal.

Shasta's medical treatment has cost about $1,000, three quarters of which has been paid for by the SPCA.

"She will need a lot of care," Lockwood said. "The dog has been through a lot and deserves the best. We'll make sure it gets the best."

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