Barking dogs, a fearless teenage girl and a viral Facebook post led to the end of Bunny the lizard’s big Bay Shore adventure, to the relief of her owner.
Janely Izquierdo, 19, of Bay Shore, went to Europe on vacation and left her 3-foot-long lizard with a friend. The friend’s mother didn’t know a lizard was in her son’s bedroom, and when she discovered the animal on Friday, she “got scared” and opened the cage for an unknown reason, Izquierdo said. The lizard somehow escaped the house.
“My friend was at work, and his mom called at him screaming and said, ‘You have the devil’s animal,’ ” Izquierdo said.
Bunny isn’t evil at all, the lizard’s proud owner said. She’s affectionate and loves being petted and scratched under the ears, she said.
The lizard is called a Savannah Monitor, which is native to tropical savannas in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Western New York Herpetological Society.
Down the street from the friend’s Bay Shore house, Simeon Eato, 20, wondered Monday afternoon why the two family dogs were barking furiously. He walked outside and saw them fixated on a spot under the grill.
“I didn’t know if it was aggressive or not, so I touched its tail, and then it ran into the other yard,” Eato said of Bunny.
Eato’s brother, Matthais Eato Jr., 22, alerted the neighbors that a giant lizard was in their yard, ran over and then took steps toward Bunny to scare her through a large opening in a wooden fence back into the Eato yard.
Matthais Eato threw a towel over Bunny’s head — thinking she’d be less skittish if she didn’t see people approaching her — and a teenage girl from next door picked the lizard up and hoisted her into the Eatos’ dog cage.
“She just went for it and wasn’t scared at all,” Simeon Eato said of his neighbor. Simeon Eato then took the lizard to a pet store for safekeeping.
The brothers told Matthais Eato’s wife, Krisbel Brenes Sandi, about the lizard, and she was grateful they found it “because I would probably have freaked out and been really scared. It’s still scary to me. It was like, ‘Oh, my God, there’s a dinosaur in my backyard.’ I’m not really a lizard person.”
Sandi immediately thought of using Facebook to locate the owner, so she posted photos and a video of Bunny. It got shared 6,800 times by Monday night, she said.
One of Izquierdo’s friends saw the photo, tagged her on it and asked, “Is this yours?”
Izquierdo, who by this time was home from vacation, was elated. She’ll have to wait until Wednesday to get Bunny back, because the pet store was closed for Independence Day.
“I won’t be fine until I physically have her in my hands and have her home,” Izquierdo said.