Thanks to an identification number tattooed on her leg and the suspicions of an Antelope Valley man, a female Rottweiler that is the mascot of Actors and Others for Animals was reunited with her owner Tuesday.
"I'm real happy," said Beverly Berger, the dog's owner and an employee of the animal welfare group. "The only thing I've done for the past 26 1/2 days is try to get her back."
Chewbacca--a 5-year-old Rottweiler named for the furry, alien Wookie character in the movie "Star Wars"--disappeared from the front yard of Berger's Sun Valley home on May 13. Berger, who suspected the dog had been stolen, immediately offered a $1,000 reward for its return and posted flyers in Sun Valley and Van Nuys.
Until Tuesday morning, she heard nothing. Then she got a call from Steve Roach of Lake Los Angeles.
According to Roach, he was approached in a Lancaster park Friday by a couple who offered to sell him the Rottweiler for $100. Roach, who owns two dogs himself, said he was immediately suspicious. "They were more or less scroungy-type people. I said to myself, 'This has to be somebody else's dog.' "
When he spotted the identification number on the inside of the Rottweiler's right leg, he demanded to see ownership papers. The couple, unable to provide any, agreed to take $50 for the dog. Roach then set about tracing the rightful owner, eventually finding Berger through a company that stores animal identification numbers.
After getting his call, Berger sped to Lake Los Angeles to be reunited with her pet. Roach, who is unemployed, pocketed the $1,000 reward--not a bad return on a $50 investment. "It was tearing me up inside," he said. "I really wanted to find the owner. It worked out great."
At the Actors and Animals office in North Hollywood, everybody was celebrating Tuesday. "We're so excited," Executive Director Cathy Singleton said. Berger said her vet had given Chewbacca a clean bill of health. "She looks fine, she looks well-fed," she said.
The charity, which was founded by the late actor Richard Basehart and his wife, provides free spaying and neutering for the pets of senior citizens and low-income people and also assists the indigent in paying veterinary bills. Earl Holliman of "Police Woman" TV fame is its president and Loretta Swit, who played in "M*A*S*H," serves on the board of directors.