JENNA STUBITS, THEN in third grade, shows off her loving pooch, “Tootsie Roll.”
Heartbreak of a Little Girl's Missing Dog
By Jeanne Sager
NEVERSINK December 7, 2007 When Jenna Stubits had a hard day, she used to curl up in her room with her favorite Christmas present in her arms.
Then the Grinch took her Chihuahua and miniature pinscher mix away.
The 15-year-old came home from school on Nov. 13 to find her dog, hooked outside to play in the yard by her father, was missing.
The hook to her chain was gone, a broken link remaining.
Along with mother Sherry, Jenna mounted a search effort, put up flyers and put a notice in the Tri-Valley Townsman.
Two weeks later, a call came in.
A family almost 5 miles away had found Tootsie Roll. They turned her over to Town of Fallsburg Animal Control.
A call to Town of Fallsburg revealed the dog stayed there for a week before she was brought to the Middletown Humane Society.
An excited Jenna took down the number of the humane society and frantically dialed the phone.
They had Tootsie Roll, they said.
Now she’s gone.
Two days before the good samaritan who found Tootsie Roll finally saw Jenna’s flyer in a beauty parlor in Neversink, a family stopped in to the Humane Society looking for a dog.
They chose Tootsie Roll.
And they’re not giving her up.
“It was almost worse getting the phone call,” Sherry Stubits said.
Adoption or not, Tootsie Roll is still her daughter’s dog, Sherry said.
“It’s hard for me to believe somebody can’t give the dog back they’ve had for two days,” she said. “I’ll do anything.”
Sherry has offered the $100 reward she posted in the Townsman.
She’s offered to pay vet bills, reimburse the family for any expenses they’ve incurred since bringing Tootsie Roll home.
“I’ll buy them any dog they want,” she said. “I don’t care what it costs me.”
All she wants is her daughter’s smile back.
Jenna has had Tootsie Roll for seven years ever since Sherry’s aunt had a litter of pups and gave one to her niece for Christmas.
It was the only puppy Sherry’s aunt gave away from that litter.
“She knew we’d take care of it,” Sherry said.
And they have.
Tootsie Roll was spayed around 6 months. She has a current rabies vaccination certificate.
More importantly, she had a home and a girl who loved her.
When Jenna was young, she’d dress the dog in her doll clothes and take her for a ride in a stroller.
“Her friends in school would tell her they were tired of hearing her always talk about Tootsie Roll,” Sherry said with a sigh.
An honor roll student at Tri-Valley, Jenna’s grades have been slipping since Tootsie’s disappearance.
She’s been failing tests, and Sherry’s gotten calls from the school nurse who’s seen an uncharacteristically morose Jenna showing up more often in her office.
It’s already been a tough year for Jenna, Sherry said.
Family discord has played a role, and the Stubits have just sold the only home their daughter has ever known on Route 55 in Neversink.
When things got tough, Sherry said her daughter would go to her room and curl up with Tootsie Roll.
“He was her little buddy,” Sherry said, tearing up. “Anytime my daughter was upset, the dog seemed to sense it.
“She got a lot of comfort from that dog,” she continued. “If these people that have the dog just mentioned Jenna’s name, she’d go nuts.
“They’d see they belong together.”
Town of Fallsburg Dog Control Officer Nancy Marinchak said she feels for the Stubits’, but she can’t help.
State law dictates an unlicensed dog running free is forfeited by an owner who doesn’t claim it after five days.
She waited seven after getting the call from a family on Lindholm Drive in Hurleyville (about 4 miles from the Stubits’ home).
Sherry had called the Town of Neversink Dog Control. She never thought to call Town of Fallsburg.
She knows the dog wasn’t licensed, admits it was a mistake.
“If I get her back, I’d have her chipped and tagged and licensed and everything I could do,” Sherry said.
Sherry isn’t criticizing Marinchak or even the folks at the Middletown Humane Society for their procedures.
“They didn’t break any laws; they did what they were supposed to do,” she said.
She’s appealing to the holiday spirit of Tootsie Roll’s new family.
“I don’t know if the new people are aware of all of this, or if they just don’t care,” she said.
“I just don’t know what I can do for my daughter,” Stubits said, her voice cracking.
If the family who has Tootsie Roll would like to talk to the Stubits (the Middletown Humane Society can’t, by law, release their name to the Stubits’), they can contact them at 647-1305.