A Warwick man and his ex-wife have been reunited with their dog almost nine months after she disappeared in the woods of West Greenwich. And now they’re trying to help the woman who apparently lost her job for bringing them together.
Rick and Melissa Page are ecstatic to have their 2 and a half year-old beagle, Maggie Mae, back in their lives.
Melissa was jogging in West Greenwich when she became separated from the dog they had adopted from the Coventry Animal Shelter. Melissa immediately mounted a frantic search for Maggie Mae, learning that the dog returned to the parking lot where she had left her car. But the trail went cold. They made flyers, posted Maggie Mae and her photo on Craig’s List and PetFinder.org and ran ads in area publications.
Both say they never gave up hope. Melissa faithfully put food in Maggie’s bowl every day, only to put it away in the evening and repeat the process the following morning. With each call in response to their outreach, there was a rush of expectation that the dog was found, followed by the disappointment on learning it was not Maggie.
“I would go home and cry,” said Melissa.
Then, on June 11, as she was in New Hampshire with her boyfriend, Melissa got a call from Katie Rourke. Rourke’s story was different and Rourke, who also owns a beagle, was so certain she had found Maggie that, midway into her trip, Melissa turned back and drove to West Warwick.
Rourke is a carpenter and worked for a contractor who was doing renovations to Section 8 housing. While on the job, she encountered a beagle and a tenant who boasted he had found the dog walking along a back road and picked it up. He reportedly went on to say he had found the owners online, but he was going to keep the dog. The tenant even called the dog Maggie.
Rourke investigated. She turned to the Internet to see if she could find the rightful owners and up popped Maggie’s picture and the names of Melissa and Rick Page.
“I knew instantly it was their dog,” she said.
Rourke, who does not want to identify the contractor she was working for, told her boss. Rourke says he told her to drop it or anonymously inform the Pages after the job was completed. Rourke was troubled.
It was one thing to find a dog and keep it. It was another to find a dog and keep it, knowing who its owners were.
“Now that’s stealing,” she said. “And they,” the Pages, “were still looking for the dog. How heartless.”
She called Melissa.
When Melissa arrived at the Weaver Street address, she didn’t know what to do. When she returned on Sunday, she knew she had found Maggie. Getting her back wasn’t easy.
When the tenant refused to return Maggie, Melissa called West Warwick Police. Initially, she said, police didn’t take the situation seriously. She said she then talked with a lieutenant, who also has a dog, and he acted. Maggie was picked up and brought to the animal shelter.
Melissa and Rick knew they could prove Maggie was theirs if they could get the dog scanner. When they adopted her, they were informed she had a chip for identification purposes.
On Monday a reading of the chip confirmed it was Maggie and she was returned to Rick and Melissa.
Confronted with the information, Melissa said the tenant, who police identified as Wayne Irons, “told me, ‘You now owe me money because I took care of your dog.’” Melissa said Irons demanded $800 and has threatened to sue to get it.
According to Sgt. Scott Amaral, Irons claimed to have gotten the dog from a friend and that it had been abused. He told police he had “rescued” the dog. Amaral confirmed that Irons wanted $800 from the Pages.
Amaral said the matter is a civil complaint and no charges have been filed.
Rourke believes Irons quickly concluded that she was the person who told the Pages where to find Maggie and complained to her boss. Rourke said she was “fired,” although some time later a co-worker called to say there wasn’t any work at the moment.
Both Rick and Melissa want to do whatever they can for her – find her another job if that’s possible.
Rourke believes she’ll find another job.
“Construction is my thing,” she says. Then after a pause she adds, “I’m not so sure I want to work for someone who doesn’t want me to do the right thing.”
As for Maggie, the friendly beagle is getting loving attention. Although no longer married, Rick and Melissa take care of the dog. Rick, who has a night job, takes care of her days and Melissa has her on nights.