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Pooch on the Loose Surprises Library Visitors

by Katie Pyzyk September 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm 6,296 43 Comments

Scampering and whimpers could be heard among the books at Central Library on Saturday (September 15), when a lost dog ended up inside the confines of the building.

Library assistant Thinh Vu said he was preparing the building for closing, which was just a few minutes away, when he heard a commotion coming from the book store area. At first, he thought it might be a service dog, but he quickly saw that the six pound chihuahua was simply running loose.

“I thought, great, this is last thing I need during closing time,” Vu said. “I have a dog, I love dogs. It was cute, but it shouldn’t be in the library.”

Typically, dogs and other pets aren’t allowed at the library unless they are service animals or part of the “Paws-to-Read” program. When librarians tried to find the owner by making an announcement about the loose dog and nobody came forward, they realized this dog likely was not intentionally brought in. They noticed it didn’t have a collar and figured it was a stray that somehow found its way into the building.

That’s actually partially the case. The dog — named Bella — and her owners had been visiting Arlington resident Melanie Domres last weekend. While the humans were out for a bit, Bella used the dog door on Melanie’s home to get into the backyard, managed to squeeze under the fence of Melanie’s home near Quincy Park, and squeezed under a neighbor’s fence. Bella then apparently took off on a jaunt through the neighborhood, though it’s unclear exactly how she wound up in the middle of the library.

“Bella’s eight-year-old owner was in tears,” Domres said. “We were worried because she doesn’t live in an area with busy streets, so she may have panicked. The worst feeling, even worse than losing your own dog, is losing someone else’s dog.”

While Domres and her guests scoured the neighborhood, library staff tried picking up the pooch, but she was frightened and continued to run around the auditorium area. Bella then headed for the children’s section, where one of the librarians succeeding in picking her up and calming her down.

“Perhaps she was a dog whisperer, because the dog was very content in her arms,” Vu said.

The dog was then kept in the lobby area until an animal welfare worker arrived. Librarian Kate Oberg says Bella looked awfully lonely all by herself, so Oberg decided to read her some dog themed books like “Harry the Dirty Dog.”

“She looked like she needed entertainment so I went and grabbed a couple of books, but she wasn’t even paying attention,” Oberg said. “She didn’t bark, was very well behaved and very cute.”

An animal welfare worker arrived on the scene quickly to claim the dog. After searching for more than an hour, Domres and her guests called Arlington County Animal Control and they said they had Bella. The six-year-old pooch was soon reunited with her owners, safe and sound.

“Judging by the pictures, Bella did not seem to be distressed at all,” said Domres. “I think she actually had fun on her adventure. Her owners definitely got a kick out of her ending up in the library.”

Domres said Bella and her owners will definitely be back to the neighborhood for future visits. However, the yard has been better secured to accommodate such a small dog. Domres said her dogs are larger, and she didn’t anticipate Bella’s ability to shimmy through tight spaces.

“Now we examined her escape route,” she said. “A small animal like that is a whole different ball of wax.”

In a thank you note to library staff, Domres wrote: “Perhaps she [Bella] felt the reading choices in my home were not sufficient to her tastes, or perhaps she recognized a friendly and safe place when she saw one. So please accept her owners’ and my thanks for taking her in and making sure she found her way to animal control, where we picked her up after giving them a call.”

Library staff is just happy Bella was safely reunited with her family, without even causing any damage to the library.

“I’m just glad it had a happy ending,” said Vu. “Luckily, they were able to find the owner.”

Photos courtesy Arlington Public Library

  • Hollywood

    Jesus that’s a long non-story, could not read it in its entirety.

    • CW

      I wish the stories about alleged crimes had that much detail; then there wouldn’t be 300 comments worth of hypothetical trial by internet jury.

      • drax

        I doubt that would stop it.

      • YTK


    • SomeGuy

      My thoughts exactly.

  • what a great story. I’m glad it ended well. I love the photo of the librarian reading a book to Bella.

  • Captain_Obvious

    chihuahua’s can walk ?!? I didn’t think they could since they are only seen in purses or being held by their owner with over-sized sunglasses.

  • nom de guerre

    Are the owners going to be investigated and charged by CPS (Chihuahua Protective Services) for failing to properly supervise the dog and failure to provide the dog with a collar and/or identification?

  • nunya

    Bella. She looks like a trouble maker that one.

  • Dezlboy

    Great Story. To All….please if you ever have a stray dog confined, please call animal control. Last year I was helping to track a lost beagle. It went into a library and the librarian kicked it out. The rest of the story isn’t pleasant.

    • Pigeon

      +1 love what they do!

  • Mike

    Are you serious ArlNow? I know it’s a slow news day, but wow.

    • DarkHeart

      As someone who has lived in places with weekly only newspaper options, I like these micro news stories.

      • Dezlboy


      • Banksy

        +2 This was a great story!

      • 7-11-bum

        +3 I agree!

        • JimPB


      • Tre

        nothing micro about that news story

      • Chihuahua

        Two paws up!

    • S. Arlington

      Sounds like the only news you think worth knowing is bad news. Many of us enjoy it. Thanks for the stroy.

      • Michael H.


      • Flaca Fina


    • Michael H.

      This comment serves as more evidence than many people here just like to complain, about anything and everything.

  • Nels Andersen

    Thinh Vu,

    Thank you for what you did.

  • George Lopez

    Viral marketing for my new direct-to-DVD movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta!”

    • Bruiser

      Actually, we were thinking of “Legally Blonde IV: Escape From Bore-ington”

  • nota gain

    kids run loose all of the time too and disrupt patrons.

  • JimPB

    My spirit is lifted by the expressions of compassion for Bella (the lost no more pooch).

    Not a surprise that this should occur in a ARLCo public library with its staff of very special persons.

  • Joehoya

    A pooch on the loose is better than a monkey on the lam!

  • DynaFlash 8

    An illegal Mexican slips under the fence and is found wandering in Arlington? And north of Route 50?!

    This must stop!

  • Rachel Montgomery

    [Post removed per comment policy]

    • Glebe Roader

      Totally uncalled for, Mr. or Ms. Perfect.

      • Michael H.


    • Waycroft Mike

      What an ugly thing to say, Rachel. Everyone is so brave (and attractive, I’m sure) in the comments’ section of a blog.

      • B22201

        As someone who was at one time incredibly attractive in the non-internet way. I too agree that was a mean thing to say. Unless she’s one of those mean dog catchers you see in cartoons, I’m sure she’s a lovely person.

    • SHLady

      Thanks for giving us your full name, so if we meet you in the future, we know what kind of person you are.

    • YTK

      Wow, Rachel — I hope she sues you

    • sunflower

      you dont elevate yourself by degrading others

    • sunflower

      thank you arlnow!

    • A. Thomas Porterville

      Oh, Ms. Montgomery, I fear that you have offended the gods of Arlington, and gods have long memories. Someday, when you are very old, alone, walking with a cane, and trying to cross Wilson Blvd. in the rain, a truck speeding by will hit a pothole (by then taxes will be unconstitutional; all paved roads will be private, all others will be dirt), and muddy water will drench you. Your cane will slip from your cold, wet hand, and no one will help — except Arlington County employees. But where the gods are concerned, you’re on a list for life unless you apologize now. Aeschylus’ Furies are timid by comparison with those watching over small dogs and Arlington’s noble public employees. Beware, Ms. Montgomery.

  • Great story – we need more like it. Vu – great job! We need more good news here – there must be more stories like this? I have rescued a neighbors 2 dogs twice when they got out and were roaming the streets. that would make another nice story!

  • Gina

    I loved this charming story. More like it, please!

  • S. Glebe Road

    So the librarian found the dog, and all was right with the world. . .

    Well, at least until the next crime report was posted.


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