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Rizzo, lost dog in Pines, reunited with owners in Pa.

(Sept. 10, 2015) After being lost in and around the woods of Ocean Pines for nearly a month, Rizzo the German shepherd is now happy, healthy and reunited with her owners in Pennsylvania.
Victoria Liptak said she and her family came to the area for a quiet beach vacation when the pup got loose in early August, triggering a communitywide search and dozens of wildly varying stories about what actually happened.
As it turns out neither Bigfoot – nor mischievous space aliens – had anything to do with the mysterious disappearance of the dog. Instead, Rizzo got loose after an accident at the beach involving Liptak and her other dog, Zuko.
“Zuko ran into me, and I couldn’t move my leg,” she said. “We went back to the beach house to drop off our dogs and the rest of our family, and my fiancé took me to the hospital. And while we were at the hospital, my sister took Rizzo outside to go to the bathroom, and she backed out of her collar and took off.”
Liptak said Rizzo had pulled out of her collar before at their home in Womelsdorf. Pa.
“We’ve always gotten her back,” she said. “She usually just runs around the block and waits at the gate for me and then we get her. I figured she would probably just take a trip around the block like she does at home, and I’ll call her name and she’ll come back. But that didn’t happen.
“After the first day I was getting really nervous, and then towards the end of the trip it was just hard knowing I had to go home and we still didn’t know where she was,” Liptak continued. “That’s when I met Diane.”
Diane Koppelman, an Ocean Pines resident, started the Facebook group “Finding Rizzo,” and for the next several weeks its members posted sightings and formed small search parties, hoping to track down the errant dog.
Eventually, the search drew the interest of amateur dog trapper Emma Maring, a Delaware native who used her experience to lure Rizzo into a fenced-in area on Aug. 25 using bits of hotdog.
After trapping the dog, she called her friend, Heather Bahrami, a volunteer at the local humane society.
Liptak said she was getting ready to go to bed when Maring sent a message to her on Facebook.
“It was midnight and she said that she was in the fenced-in area with Rizzo … and then at 3:30 [in the morning] they said they had her and they were taking her to the humane society,” Liptak said.
Rizzo was delivered to the shelter and two days later she was reunited with Liptak.
“Thankfully, there were people there that cared so much and were willing to help someone they didn’t even know,” Liptak said. “It was amazing. It shocked me because I don’t think that would have happened if she got loose out here. We would have told our neighbors and they would have been like, ‘Okay – and your point is?’”
Liptak said it was hard to describe the feeling of elation she had at finally seeing her dog again.  
“She sniffed me first, like she wasn’t quite sure, then she realized it really was me,” she said. “She yelped and made all kinds of noise and hasn’t left my side.
“As soon as she got home she did a lap around the yard, a lap around the house, made sure everything was where it was supposed to be, and she’s been back to normal since,” Liptak continued. “The only thing she’s been a little iffy about is she doesn’t like going outside by herself.”
She added that Rizzo got a clean bill of health from the local veterinarian, and expressed again how grateful she was to everyone who helped during the three-week search to find her lost dog.
“I can’t say thank you enough to everyone that took their time,” she said. “Emma was coming from Delaware on a daily basis and she ended up staying in Ocean City to help someone she didn’t even know. Everyone has been so amazing.”