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Search continues for hero dog last seen in North Side

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:20 p.m.
Cocoa, a three year old Belgian Malinois, who is being credited with helping to save the life of her owner’s father, has been missing for 13 days.

The dog community in two states is helping to look for one of its own.

Cocoa, a Belgian Malinois credited with saving the life of her owner's father in the North Side two weeks ago, still is missing — despite an around-the-clock effort to find her.

“We've had people come from Ohio (and) Latrobe to help,” said Cocoa's owner, Shari Caruso of Zelienople. “The folks from Lost Dogs Pittsburgh — a volunteer group who help distressed pet owners find their lost pets — have been instrumental in helping me look, hang up signs and asking people.”

Cocoa, 3, weighs about 50 pounds and is a smart breed, used by the Army and police, Caruso said.

The trail went cold on Friday.

The dog, which does have a microchip, last was seen in Riverview Park in the North Side, said Caruso, who hopes Cocoa is trying to work her way home, a distance of about 30 miles.

“I raised her from 4 months old. She is my baby, and I want her back,” Caruso said. “The thing is not knowing.”

Cocoa was with Caruso's father, Sam Caruso, 73, when his beer store near the Mexican War streets was robbed. When Sam Caruso was hit on the head with a brick, Cocoa got loose and chased after the two assailants.

That saved Sam Caruso's life, but Cocoa hasn't been seen since, said Mary Beth Aiello of Whitehall, a friend of Shari Caruso's who has been helping in the search.

While her father is recuperating, more than 100 friends and searchers have been combing neighborhoods nonstop looking for the dog they credit with saving his life.

“Volunteers are coming from all over,“ Aiello said. “There's a huge dog community in Pittsburgh.”

Anyone with information about Cocoa should call Caruso at 724-822-9558. She is offering a reward for the dog's safe return.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or csmith@tribweb.com.

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