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Long IslandSuffolk

Cops seek help finding dog stolen in West Islip burglary

A West Islip little girl is asking Santa to bring her dog back, which was stolen from her house in an October robbery. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Dec. 19, 2012)

What did 10-year-old Maria Labriola put on her list for Santa?

A crucifix for her bedroom, an evil-eye bracelet and the return of the beloved Joey, a 3-year-old Maltese/dachshund mix, which police say was taken during the burglary of her West Islip home.

"I know you can't get me everything I ask for but so if you can only get me Jojo I will be very happy," wrote Maria, a fifth-grader.

While cash and jewelry were taken in the Oct. 23 break-in, Joey is the main object of attention, said Maria's mother, Donna Labriola, a clerk for a health insurance agency. She, her three daughters and friends have been visiting shelters and blanketing the Internet and community with help-find-Joey pleas and posters.

Joey "was like a little son to me," said Labriola, a single mom who also has a pit bull puppy and Australian shepherd.

Labriola said she even consulted two pet psychics, both of whom told her one of the burglars snatched the pooch for his girlfriend. One told her he didn't "see" Joey on Long Island and felt he is now in Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx, she said. "It's like looking for a needle in a haystack."

"Our world changed" the day he was taken, wrote Labriola, 48, on the animal resources website she runs, PlentyofPetz.com.

The burglary occurred sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and the burglar -- or, burglars -- took cash and the 13-pound dog after entering the home through a basement door, Suffolk police said.

Police are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

Joey, who also answers to JoJo, is tan -- or cream-colored -- with a black-and-gray tint to his ears and tail, police said. Labriola said he has two protruding ribs near his belly.

Though the burglary occurred in October, Labriola said police advised her to not contact the media right away as police processed evidence found at the scene.

Her thinking now is that whoever might have the dog may be unaware he was stolen and would seek to return him.

Especially since Maria, in the past week-and-a-half, was clued in by students at school as to Santa's true identity, and her daughter's expectation for Joey's return "kind of diminished," Labriola said.

Maria said she misses playing with Joey, dressing him up and having him lie on her bed.

"I just want to get him back or to know where he is," she said. "It's the only thing I want for Christmas this year."

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