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Abandoned 'ghost dog' on Fire Island eludes capture

A cell phone photo of

A cell phone photo of "Whitey" by Marge Tannen of Fair Haven. "The ghost dog" looks like a white German Shepherd-Husky mix with one blue eye and one brown. Credit: Marge Tannen

One Fire Island resident calls him "the ghost dog"; another, simply "Whitey." He trots and runs unceasingly for miles - on the beach, along the main dirt road, through backyards - between Ocean Bay Park and the parking lot at Robert Moses State Park where, sometime last week, someone saw him being pushed out of a car and abandoned.

He looks like a white German shepherd-husky mix with one blue eye and one brown, and eludes any attempt to lure or capture him, including the two wooden humane dog traps set up this week by the Town of Islip Animal Shelter.

"He has a destination but he doesn't know where he's going," said Marge Tannen, 50, of Fair Harbor.

"I call him the ghost dog," she said. "At first I only saw him out of the corner of my eye because he's always running."

Joanne Daly, Town of Islip animal shelter supervisor, said the original report of the dog came Jan. 22 to a state park facilities supervisor. A parks employee "saw someone pull up at Field 5 and just throw the dog out of the car," Daly said she was told.

The dog, who has created a stir among the more than 300 year-round Island residents, appears to be calming, according to National Park Service law enforcement supervisor John Stewart.

The dog even sniffed a finger offered by Tannen's Fair Harbor neighbor Kathleen Chinkel, a school librarian at West Islip High School, when she approached with a piece of toast early Wednesday morning.

"He seems very frightened," said Chinkel, who calls him "Whitey." "He doesn't appear to be a vicious dog."

A few days earlier, she had watched as he ran alongside a leashed dog with two bicyclists, and managed to lure him into her enclosed yard. "We quickly got him into my yard and closed the gate, but he got frightened and ran up some stairs and out another exit," she said.

If the dog is captured, he'd be vaccinated, neutered, licensed and kept at the shelter for seven days before being made available for adoption.

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