A father-daughter pair of white Malteses were an integral part of Patrick Orlando’s family.
“They would eat, sleep, bathe with us,” said Orlando. “And then our family was ripped apart.”
After a visit to the veterinarian July 2, Orlando pulled into the Publix supermarket at Mary Brickell Village in downtown Miami. He left the dogs in his car during his 10-minute shopping trip.
When he came out, Orlando found the passenger seat window broken, and the two dogs nowhere to be found.
Distraught, Orlando called police to file a burglary report, the first step of many calls in the next four weeks in his quest to find his missing pets.
“It was a crime of opportunity,” Orlando said. He replays the day over and over again, he said, searching for hints of who could have taken the dogs.
Orlando took three weeks off from his job to wake up at the crack of dawn and post fliers from Little Havana to Brickell Avenue, hoping someone had seen 5-year-old Misha and 7-year-old Bianco.
“I would go to bed at 3 a.m., but still not sleep more than 90 minutes,” Orlando said. “It’s just hard not knowing if they are dead or alive, or who they are with.”
Over the past month, Orlando had seen his hopes crushed as he walked out of animal shelters from Fort Lauderdale to West Kendall with no luck of finding the dogs. He looked at 120 dogs — to no avail.
But Saturday, Orlando got a call from the Broward Humane Society about a white Maltese who responded to the name “Misha.” He rushed to the shelter.
“When she saw me, she froze,” Orlando said.
The owner took a five-pound, disheveled Misha home. Two of her legs had been broken, a hip was dislocated, and she is partially blind. She apparently had been hit by a car. Before leaving the shelter in Dania Beach, she was microchipped.
A Humane Society employee had seen Orlando’s pleas to the community on television, and made the connection with the injured female Maltese that had been brought in July 7 by Opa-locka Fire-Rescue.
Firefighters said the dog had been left in a box, anonymously, outside Station 54.
But Bianco is still missing. Orlando said the eight-pound white Maltese is missing a nail on his front paw and barks nervously when people he doesn’t know approach him. The dog does not have a microchip.
Orlando is offering $3,000 to anyone who finds Bianco, no questions asked. He has already spent just as much, he said, to find them. He hired a private investigator and sent out a paid street-team to hand out fliers.
Bianco and Misha were Orlando’s family long before his marriage to wife Jennifer and the birth of their daughter Francesca, who is 17 months old.
Orlando watched as the two dogs were born in Lima, Peru, when he was still dating Jennifer.
Orlando, now a Brickell banker, even took the dogs with him to work.
“They were so quiet and well-behaved that no one even noticed,” he said Wednesday from his office, with the youngest dog in his arms.
It isn’t the first time crime has hit his family. In 2011, Orlando’s sister, a fashion designer, was found dead in a New York City hotel room. She, also an animal-lover, had two teacup poodles, Pepper and Loli.
“It’s been really hard to cope with losing her, and now I feel like I’ve lost again,” Orlando said.
Anyone with information about Bianco may call 305-432-2218.