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The Straits Times
Dec 3, 2023
Following a dramatic rescue involving motorists and the police on a busy expressway, a pet dog was reunited with his tearful owner a day after he escaped.
Footage of the incident circulating on social media shows Katsu the Italian greyhound running along the expressway on the morning of Dec 1, with car drivers and motorcyclists attempting to herd him towards the road divider.
A police vehicle can also be seen stopping near the cornered dog, as the officers disembark.
Katsu’s owner Debra Loi lauded members of the public who helped in the search. She also thanked the motorists who drove with enough care to avoid running over her beloved dog. “We are very blessed and lucky,” the freelance nurse told The Straits Times.
Ms Loi praised the authorities for going above and beyond the call of duty, as well as the pet community for its willingness to help.
“I want to especially thank the motorcyclists and drivers who helped to direct and slow down the traffic – everyone helped to corner Katsu and ensure everyone is safe,” she added.
On Nov 30, at about 8am, Katsu was on a walk while leashed and harnessed with Ms Loi’s mother in a neighbourhood in Kallang when he was spooked by a neighbour’s off-leash dog that had charged at him.
Ms Loi’s mother attempted to carry Katsu out of harm’s way, but the dog struggled and jumped out of her arms before sprinting away. Italian greyhounds are among the fastest dogs in the world, able to run at speeds of 40kmh.
Ms Loi was alerted by her mother and rushed over to look for Katsu, tracking the dog until about 9.30am when she eventually lost sight of him. She then began posting on various local animal groups’ social media pages, offering a reward of $5,000.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal and Veterinary Service and the Land Transport Authority were also alerted, and the Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System recovery team began keeping a lookout in nearby areas, as Katsu could have been a potential threat to motorists.
Ms Loi’s friends, as well as members of the public, aided her in the search for Katsu throughout the day, reporting sightings of the dog along the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway and Pan-Island Expressway. However, the various parties involved were unable to secure Katsu, and the search was called off at about midnight.
Ms Loi continued her own search with another neighbour until about 4am on Dec 1, then continued on her own at about 6.30am. At about 10am, she received a call from a driver named Ben, who said that he had spotted Katsu while driving on the PIE.
“I felt very overwhelmed, I was in disbelief. I also was wondering if it was a scam. I couldn’t believe they caught him, because it’s impossible to catch an Italian greyhound,” she told ST.
“(Ben) said many cars are stopping for (Katsu), he even tried to comfort me. He also marked on (the) map the exact location of the sighting,” Ms Loi said.
She was then alerted via social media that Katsu – still with his leash and harness on – had been secured by the authorities, with the Traffic Police calling her shortly after.
Ms Loi said that she was supposed to collect Katsu from a nearby police station, but after the police found that her residence was about 1km away from the station, they delivered the dog to her instead.
After the emotional reunion, she took Katsu to the vet, who said the dog had suffered broken paw pads, rashes and abrasions, but was not seriously injured.
Ms Loi said the owner of the unleashed dog that had spooked Katsu offered to pay for the medical fees incurred. He has apologised to her over the incident, and will be contributing towards the reward money.
Ms Loi, who is also an actress, has decided to donate the sum to animal welfare organisations.