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Owner yearns to find 4-legged family member

Monday’s downpour and 90-degree heat were no obstacle for Claremont resident David Hunter, who sat vigil in the handicap parking spot outside the Stater Bros. market at Towne Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. The recent tumultuous weather is the last thing concerning Mr. Hunter, who has become a regular fixture outside the local grocery store as part of a pilgrimage to find his lost pup Rusty, a 9-year-old Brittany Spaniel. To date, he has spent 55 hours the past week passing out flyers to grocery store patrons.

Rusty went missing last Saturday afternoon, August 17. She was last seen in the garage of Mr. Hunter’s home in the 1000 block of Raymond Avenue. The diligent pet owner hasn’t been idle since. When not in front of Stater Bros., he canvasses neighborhoods and local shelters in search for his cherished canine. He insists he will continue to make the rounds until she is back home where she belongs.

“It’s heartbreaking, like losing one of your children,” Mr. Hunter said.

Mr. Hunter describes Rusty—a medium-sized pooch with a white-and-brown coat—as a gentle dog who knows how to work her owners. She’s a big couch potato until its time for her morning belly rub or nightly walk from home to Scripps Drive and through the Village with Mr. Hunter’s wife, Nancy, he notes.

“She’s such a good dog, just a big baby,” he said. “Not having her here...it’s really been tough.”

The past couple of weeks have been a trying time for the entire Hunter family, who have grown close to Rusty over the years for visits to their grandpa’s house or hunting excursions, on which Rusty was said to be a dutiful companion.

“She really is a part of the family,” Mr. Hunter’s son Mike said.

Many relatives have joined the search for the spaniel. The grandkids have taken to social media, while Mr. Hunter and son Mike have hit the Inland Valley Humane Society and Claremont Police Department for leads.

Mr. Hunter is particularly indebted to the crew at Stater Bros., who has taken him under their wing. Mr. Hunter is thankful to have been allowed to review the store’s surveillance footage for a glimpse of his spaniel and is grateful for the encouraging words and occasional cold drinks as he sits in the parking lot with sign in hand.

“Everyone has been really great,” said Mr. Hunter, noting his appreciation.

The local community is joining in on the efforts. More than 20 people stopped by Mr. Hunter’s vigil on Tuesday afternoon, one bringing a fresh batch of flyers to Mr. Hunter, while others offered words of encouragement. Among them was Claremont resident Ed Aluzas, owner of 3 rescue dogs, who says he can empathize with the devastated dog owner.

“My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a pet,” he said.

While Rusty has yet to make it back to her Claremont home, she can rest assured her owner is not giving up on her.

“I’m not going to stop until she is back home,” he said.

Any information or leads on Rusty’s whereabouts may be reported to David and Nancy Hunter at 624-1724. A reward is being offered for her return.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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