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Thursday, Mar 1, 2012County: Alameda
Case Images: 3 files available
Suspect(s) Unknown - We need your help!
Once upon a time in Tulsa, Okla., there was a flaxen-haired princess with a coterie of loving attendants, a three-hour-a-day grooming regimen and a room full of trophies.
Fast-forward seven years to East Oakland. That princess - a champion shih tzu show dog named Pup-Pourri's Briana - was found this week staggering along one of the city's meanest streets, tangled in chicken wire and dirt-encrusted dreadlocks, one of the most bizarre animal-neglect cases Oakland animal control officers have ever seen.
"Our best guess is that she was enclosed in chicken wire so tightly she couldn't move, for months if not years," said Oakland Animal Services Director Megan Webb. "But she seemed to have all this training. This air about her. It was strange."
Oakland animal control officers have started piecing together Pup-Pourri's Briana's trajectory. After veterinary staff shaved off the chicken wire and matted fur, treated her skin infections and fed her a decent meal, they checked to see if she had a microchip. She did, and it was registered to a woman named Cheryl Baer in Tulsa.
She's a winner
Baer wept when she heard the fate of one of her favorite show dogs, a creature so beautiful, proud and charming she won best-of-breed competitions in five states. Baer was Pup-Pourri's Briana's groomer for five years, primping her for hours a day with shampoo, conditioner, curling irons and special latex bands for her topknot.
"I am absolutely appalled at what happened to her," said Baer, choking back tears Friday when reached by phone. "A dog that was so loved. ... It's a miracle she's alive."
According to Baer, Pup-Pourri's Briana was born in 1998 in Tulsa, the daughter of a four-time best-in-show sire. Her owners, an older couple who bred and showed shih tzus, hired a handler, as well as Baer, to shepherd the dog to stardom.
A star for 5 years
And a star she was. For five years, Pup-Pourri's Briana swept through AKC dog shows in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas, collecting ribbons for her smooth gait, spunky disposition and perfect proportions - wide-set eyes, flat high-set nose and luminous locks.
But then the wife developed Alzheimer's and the husband sold the kennel to a breeder in California. After that, no one's quite sure what happened to the pampered pooch.
Until Wednesday. That's when a resident of East Oakland saw Pup-Pourri's Briana hobbling along Thermal Street, just off 98th Avenue, barely able to walk because of the chicken wire enmeshed in her underbelly and rear legs.
Someone had apparently freed the dog from her chicken wire prison with snippers, leaving her to fend for herself on the tough streets of East Oakland.
Animal control officers are asking anyone with information about the dog to call (510) 535-5602. Friends of Oakland Animal Services is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the dog's most recent owners for neglect.
Meanwhile, Baer hopes to make her first-ever trip to California to adopt Pup-Pourri's Briana and take her home to Tulsa.
"She was such a magnificent show dog," she said. "But now she's up there in age, and she's been through so much. I just don't want to risk seeing anything bad happen to her again."
If you have information on this case, please contact:
Oakland Animal Services
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