Police make arrest in missing dog case

PHILADELPHIA - January 4, 2008 Police confirmed they have arrested a 15-year-old from the Nicetown section and are charging him with terroristic threats and alleged efforts to extort money from the dog owner.

The problems arose for Bill Whiting and Edna, a little beagle mix, last fall.

Bill had adopted Edna a decade ago. She disappeared in the Italian market on Halloween.

Thousands of reward posters went up then ugly phone calls followed; in the background of one was the sound of a dog whimpering in pain.

"They told me to bring cash or they would kill my dog," Bill Whiting said.

Police say they were able to trace one of the calls to the suspect's home.

Two of the suspect's friends told police he bragged about the extortion effort.

"If this is in fact the person that's done this, this is a very troubled child and that kid needs help," Whiting said.

It is not known if the suspect ever actually had Edna or was just making malicious threats. No one has found evidence of Edna or her collar.

"That's all I have been told so far, that there are no remains nor is there a living dog to be shown, so that part of it remains a mystery," Whiting said.

Whiting says the only thing he can salvage from this nightmare is the attention focused on animal cruelty.

The SPCA oversees more than 5,000 adoptions a year in Philadelphia. It says high profile cases like Edna's help in its mission to protect pets.

"It actually helps our cause because it raises the level of consciousness of society that are pets are what we care about and we all need to take care of them," Lisa Rodger of the Pennsylvania SPCA said.

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