By Chuck Strouse
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After frantic urgings by Betancourt, Juliana Whittle, an owner of Thomas' Promises, reluctantly agreed to retrieve the dog the following Monday with her sister Esmeralda. "To go to Animal Services is a big headache," she sighs. "It was like a favor." When the sisters arrived at the pound's reception desk that afternoon, they had to write a check for Ambrosio's kennel fees. "But when we went to find the dog, he wasn't there," Whittle says, adding that they retrieved their check and left. She then called Betancourt at the hospital: "I left a message and said that we hadn't picked up the dog because they couldn't find the dog." The Animal Services file erroneously indicates Ambrosio was redeemed to owner (presumably Juliana Whittle) at about 4:30 p.m. that Monday.
A few days later Betancourt received a $137 bill from the pound for three weeks' kennel fees, including one dollar for a new rabies vaccination. A new rabies tag came with the bill. "That's so ironic that they sent me the tag and everything and I don't know anything about the dog. I would like to know if he's doing well."
These days, while waiting to move to a ground-floor apartment and losing hope of finding Ambrosio, Betancourt dreams of somehow acquiring a house with a yard where she could run a nonprofit day-care service for dogs whose owners are in the hospital. The service would be free for the elderly. "Kennels are expensive. The cheapest one I could find was $15 a day," says Betancourt. "That's a lot of money."