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Boardman’s pet peeve

Published: Wed, October 12, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Zoning department attempts to leash business’s sidewalk mascot

By Ashley Luthern



If people look twice when they see a 5-foot-tall dog waving near U.S. Route 224, that’s the point, says the business owner who sponsors it.

Harbor Pet Center, located in the plaza on the southwest corner of U.S. Route 224 and Market Street, began sending its dog mascot out along sidewalks near the business about two years ago.

The township zoning department, however, is trying to put a halt on it — with concerns over safety growing after a fatal accident at the intersection last month.

Township zoning ordinance states that signs shall be placed no closer than 25 feet from all other property lines, and businesses must apply for sign permits to be placed on their buildings or property, said zoning inspector Anna Mamone. Temporary signs are prohibited.

Mamone said the township is monitoring a couple of businesses that use employees to hold signs outside, but for the most part, it is not a problem for her department.

“If [it’s] on [private] property, then there’s nothing we can say,” Mamone said.

Gary Winslow, owner of Harbor Pet Center, said the store’s mascot isn’t effective near the plaza storefront, which sits back from Market Street behind Jimmy John’s and Five Guys restaurants.

“We literally get comments from probably three or four customers daily about, ‘Gee, we didn’t know you were here. We didn’t realize you had puppies,’ indicating to us that since we’re sitting so far back off the road, they had no idea we were here,” Winslow said.

He said the mascot is no longer supposed to be on the corner of U.S. Route 224 and Market Street.

“We stopped putting him out on the corner because the township insisted, but quite honestly, it’s had a detrimental effect,” Winslow said.

Justin Chesnic, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 4, which includes Mahoning County, said mascots or people with signs are permitted on the sidewalk along a state route, such as Market Street (state Route 7) and Route 224.

“They are not allowed in the highway and also ... they are walking and carrying signs because we don’t allow [permanent] signs in our right of way or sidewalks,” Chesnic said.

A mascot or person with a sign is not permitted in construction zones unless a sidewalk has remained open, he said.

The corner of Market Street and Route 224 has been a construction zone for months as a right turning lane was added to the eastbound part of Route 224, in front of Men’s Warehouse. Chesnic said that project is undergoing its final inspection this week.

Mamone said her office received several calls about the mascot in the days after the death of Paul Macejko. Macejko, 56, was killed Sept. 3 when a car hit him while he was clearing glass from Route 224 just east of state Route 7. Macejko had responded with a tow truck to an earlier accident there.

At other businesses, sign-toting employees are not common, Mamone said.

“It might happen once in a while for a sale, and it’s over and done with quickly. [Harbor Pet Center] is continuous and we’re getting calls,” she said.

The mascot advertising the pet company also stands in front of other businesses, which have taken out their own sign permits, she said.

But Winslow argues the township is hurting business instead of protecting it.

“It seems to be anti-business to not give me the opportunity to be seen and bring in customers. ... It’s helped my business, and I would really hate to give it up,” he said.

Mamone maintains the township is not anti-business.

“Actually the No. 1 concern is ... the safety of the employees,” she said. “They’re out on the busy roads in those costumes when it’s 95 degrees or zero degrees and traffic coming by, and visibility is not that great in those costumes with the headdress.”

Winslow said he makes sure the five teenage employees who wear the dog costume are safe, and he wants to keep them at work.

“We really had a big drop-off in traffic. We’re at the point where I’m going to have to lay five guys off who wear the suit if we’re not getting the sales,” he said.

Sgt. John Allsopp, Boardman’s traffic unit supervisor, said police officers have been asked to contact zoning if they see the dog mascot. Allsopp said the police department treats the mascot similar to people who form picket lines.

“As long as they’re not obstructing or delaying traffic or blocking sidewalks or soliciting in roadways,” they are not in violation of state traffic laws, he said.


1magnolia(27 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

There are worse things to be concerned about rather than the employee waving a sign wearing a dog costume! Leave them alone. They stay on the sidewalk and do not bother anyone. I have never seen them out in the street. I enjoy seeing them. I think it is cute and it is also what caught my eye and drew me in to buy my puppy a few months ago.

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2wupper(16 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Just MAYBE they should worry more about the traffic congestion durning the shopping season then business try to stay open!! Like putting access roads in the shopping areas!!!!

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3WhatRUAfraidOf(85 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

They ought to leave the dog in the costume alone! I wouldn't buy a puppy from Harbor Pet due to the possibility of them buying their animals from puppy mills, but seeing the dog in the costume always makes us smile when we drive by.

Perhaps, as wupper said, they should be more concerned about why it takes longer to drive down 224 from Tippecanoe to South Avenue than it takes to drive from Austintown to Kent. Maybe the trustees should talk to the people at Myrtle Beach to find out how they've got the lights on Route 17 timed. It takes half as long to go twice as far with more traffic signals, even in high season. We can't figure out what they've done differently but it seems to work a heck of a lot better than whatever they've done to 224!

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4harleydog(243 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The people that run Boardman Township are idiots. Don't you have more important things to worry about than a costumed dog on the corner? Figure out the traffic problems on 224 before you worry about a costumed dog waving a sign. The three stooges will probably want to put a levy on the ballot to pay for an investigation of the high crimes and misdemeanors that this dog has caused.

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5enjoytheride(26 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

this appear to be Puppy Mill Retail Store...there are two in our area. Anyone who buys one of their poorly bred puppy mill dogs should have their head examined. You can buy a real AKC registered dog with parents that have proven their worth to be breeding material for LESS than the over inflated prices of the substandard mutts they sell at these stores.They wanted 4800 for a american bulldog...you can get one from a AKC breeder for much less than that.
We had a friend who felt sorry and bought a designer dog there, it has been plagued with health troubles from the day one. The store offered to trade them on it. They asked what they would do with the puppy..they said put it to sleep. The friend kept the dog and willl be good to it as long as it lives. Another person we know bought a chihuahua when she took it to her vet they told her it had a horrible heart murmur that she would have to to take the dog to OHio State for to get fixed. She said they vet check before they sell..her vet told her a first year vet student could have heard this murmur..who checked it Mr Yoder or Mr Byler? LOL
BOO HOO no one knows your there...get over it. Dont like you location..move! There is plenty of retail space for sale in the area.

If they really gave a damn about the puppies they would stop buying htem from puppy mills or "breeders clubs" as they call themselves now.

If they cared about the community they would allow local rescues to adopt pets out of their store and stop selling puppy mill puppies.
Like Petsmart and Petco do..they allow local shelters and rescues in to adopt pets from their store.

Kudos to the township for shutting this down..safety should be a consideration. I think it is distraction and dangerous on a all ready tricky road to drive on at times.

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6whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Some of them mascots are down right amusing.

As far as all these dogs getting killed, I would rather see them on the dinner table then just killed.

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7howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Retail is all about LOCATION, you didn't have to choose a site hidden from view of traffic!
If people don't see you there are two options for you to consider: 1 Move your business to a better location. 2 Advertise legally (on TV, Radio, and newspapers).

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8ElPolloRetrasado(212 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

@howardinyoungstown, you said 2 would be to advertise "legally"! They are advertising legally, why do you think the cops haven't intervened? Whether the place buys from puppy mills or not is not the concern. The owner is completley within their rights and is working by the law and even doing things differently because zoning asked and not because he had to! If you don't like their doggy politics than don't shop there but if they are not doing anything illegally then leave them be.

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9MARGEOMATIC(128 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

this area that has young people killing each other over rock because there are no jobs - cAN'T THEY find better things to do. Why put people out of work GHEESH !

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10legend33(169 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

They ought to concern themselves with all the brothers and sisters coming into Boardman and shoplifting every freakin day!

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11becky47(34 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Boardman should worry about the poor puppies and the horible breeding places they come from. I agree with enjoy the ride

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12lefty83(313 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The business is more of a problem.it's nothing more then a puppy mill.

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13ElPolloRetrasado(212 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

One other issue with this story...Mr. Macejko was killed at 1:12 AM in the morning! Im 100% positive that guy was not out there advertising the pet store at 1 in the morning!! Plain and simple Boardman, get some actual engineers that can get out there and fix your traffic issues! Don't blame your businesses.

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14jasoninohio(119 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

ElPollo, good point on the time of the accident.

Just leave the dog alone. Of all things for Boardman to be worryng about, I would thing a guy dressed like a dog would be low on the list.

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15gwin330(3 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Leave the business alone.......They have terrific puppies and are employing great employees. I think this is all about the sign, not what the business sells or doesn't sell. The township should be working to create jobs and welcome business to their community not working against them.

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16jetercp(67 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

wow, so so typical of the mindset of Boardman... worry bout silly rules and laws such as this. reminds me of when i was a kid about 15 years ago and the police had nothing better to do than harass kids who parked their cars in the boarman plaza, yet every summer we had a car show to do the same thing. heaven forbid boardman ever had to fight crimes or actually protect its citizens. another serious embarassment on the parts of boardman.

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17DwightK(1531 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I guess investigating these kinds of issues is why Boardman need a police levy. Meanwhile, thugs are storing drugs and guns in rental units near Midlothian.

Priorities people, come on.

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18ts1227(137 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Welcome to the world of zoning... a ton of useless regulations to protect a bunch of "what if" situations that will never happen.

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19YtownParent(918 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

1) I don't think the sidewalk is "more than 25ft away from the road" as the ordinance and permit specify.

2)The business applied for & was granted the proper permit, but if the mascot is walking a sidewalk that is less than 25ft from the road the business is violating the terms of the permit. It would be less insulting to the community and less apathetic if the business just put the mascot on the sidewalk without applying for a permit at all.

3)No they are not doing anything illegal as of yet, but they are violating the terms of the permit. The police are acting properly in this regard by just radioing it in if and when they see the dog out there, as this documents any patterns and when the mascot is there in relation to any accidents in the area. It gives the zoning department the documentation it needs to revoke the permit as well.

4)While the mascot itself may not be illegal, having teenagers, aka "minors", in the suit maybe. I'm not a lawyer, let alone an expert on child labor laws,wish the reporter would have followed up on that and asked an expert or two.

5)These regulations do matter. It's cost the community greatly, some more so than others.It cost Paul Macejko his life. It cost his wife her husband. His children their father. It cost Boardman Township and the Mahoning County the life of a successful businessman.

I never met Paul Macejko nor anyone in his family. I do know several people who worked for hims for years, through out their own deep personal tragedies and family health issues. How many other people have employers who've always had a job for them in this area? In this country?

The idea that we can just ignore the laws and rules that we ourselves made for ourselves, just because it doesn't seem that important is just as responsible for the shape this community is in as single parent households, drugs, violence and crime. It maybe more of a catalyst to them. It all matters, even these comments. How many posters would want one of their kids to read their comments?

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20arbalaugh(13 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

YTOWNPARENT: Maybe you should get all the facts before jumping to conclusions and wasting everyone's time with your incorrect information.

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21ElPolloRetrasado(212 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

@Ytownparent, what does the death of Mr. Macejko have to do with this?! The accident that happened was at 1 in the morning. That has absolutley nothing to do with this. The only reason zoning brought it up was to get them some sympathy when they try some sort of action against the business. Where are you getting your so called ordinances and permit info from because you are completely wrong!

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22ghostofjohnyoung(163 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Boadman has gone to the dogs.

I think they are afraid the mascot might get loose and take a dump in the local doggie park and no one will clean it up.

Where's Officer McGruff when you need him?

I use to shop in Boardman, but the traffic is a nightmare. Crossing lanes to get into the many plazas is dangerous and time consuming.

No one was smart enough to run local access roads on both sides of 224. Pure stupidity. It's a region wide cheapskate problems. These dolts know what they should be doing, they read about it in relative publications for their industry decades ago.

Good luck finding things in Boardman or discovering anything new. There is no master plan, logic, flow, signage, etc. Sure big boxes have signs, local businesses have ummm maybe a sign on their storefront 100 ft from the road.

Puppy mill? Funny we complain about such, but no one complains about the same and worse treatment of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. What's worse is you folks actually eat those animals. Yum!

See you in the drive thru for your happy meals. I'll be the mascot wearing the big red shoes. Don't get the hoodlums from 224 to shoot me, and like that dog mascot we don't do well in dog fights. Ruff-ruff!

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23Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I understand the puppy mill thing. However it is fun to beep at the dog especially when it has a boom box and is grooving .I get a kick out of that.I'm surprised some kid hasn't paint balled its britches though.LOL.

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24Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

HAY where is Apollo and how super we are out here in Boardman

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25Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

A-t-o-m-i-c D-o-g bow wow wow yippi o yippi a !

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26bmanresident(607 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Drugs and guns, Boardman is going to the dogs!

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27bfpeer(32 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I for one would leave those poor kids alone who are in the costumes. At least they are not the ones selling those poor pets. I would NEVER go there again. I bought an animal from there that was $179. after a 20 % discount for buying a $20 membership! I t was originally $ 229.00. Well my poor daughter was heart broken when 15 days later her animal had DIED! They told me to bring the receipt and I would get half off another. Are you serious? They told me that day they only had a week return policy! I paid that much to have a heartbroken 4 year old and out all that money plus the supplies for the animal! They should just close the store down!!!!!!

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28taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

There is absolutely no reason to buy a dog when there are so many at the pound and at rescues who need a loving home before they get put to sleep. Please remember this people before buying from a pet store/puppy mill

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29pytsip(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Regardless of your beliefs on puppy mills or anything else regarding this business, that is not what this article is about. If you believe that the business is doing something wrong, then fine, don't shop there, but stop bring up irrelevant arguments. The truth is, the owner of the business is doing absolutely nothing wrong, he is providing employment to teenagers who probably otherwise would not be able to get a job in this economy. He is creatively marketing his company with minimal costs, also something that is necessary to succeed in this economy.

And by the way, whatever happened to holding the driver of the car responsible? It's the sign's fault, it's the kid in the dog costume's fault, it's the road's fault, it's the guy's car with the neon under glows fault... no it's the driver's fault.

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30stewie(109 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Leave the dogs alone and focus on important issues!
like crime, traffic control, hell , get some of the streets paved with some of that 2 million in tax money in the general fund from the last levy you snaked through!

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31taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

pytsip....I'm sure you must be a worker, owner or whatever there. You're right that the issue isn't a PUPPYMILL. But since it is a store that's buys from a PUPPYMILL I feel the need to point that out to people. why pay all that money for a PUPPYMILL dog when there are many to choose from at the pound and rescues? Sorry if we are raining on your parade, but those that actually care about animals would never run a store that gets animals from a PUPPYMILL. OK?

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32AnotherAverageCitizen(1183 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

""some of that 2 million in tax money in the general fund from the last levy you snaked through!""

Last I looked it was passed by a vote..

Leave the dogs alone..

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33taxme(361 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

WOW I just cant believe the people who on here complaining about Boardman. I would say most arn't from Boardman and are just jealous of what we have. Traffic problems???? grow up! There are no traffic problems. The go to Pittsburg OR Cleveland if you want traffic problems. Take Your kid in a dog suit and go back to Austintown, Youngstown, Poland or wherever your from and stay out of our stores, churches, schools, restaurants, and and parks.

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34mudduck(31 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

taxme... complaining about boardman no boardman needs to worry about bigger issues than a goofball in a dog costume strumming up businesss...maybe the dog and all the business should leave boardman if you don't want anyone in YOUR township.

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35wolfman20012(5 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Now I have to make a comment about this. Have any of you drove past the dog and sat at that red light? What is that dog doing you may ask? he is providing entertainment for you guys who sit at that red light and the ones who are just mad with all the traffic. Have you seen this guy he is really crazy the best mascot we have seen in boardman so far. he dances for you daily. he waters the fire hydrant sometimes for your entertainment. and now the thing he is really famous for. THE DOG DOES CARTWHEELS who has ever seen a 5 ft dog do a cart wheel not i. it truly amazing work that he does. AND ANOTHER THING WHEN YOU SEE THE DOG WAVE AND BEEP AT IT. i am sure the crazier and more involved you get with the dog the crazier he will be. so back to the point. There are other things to worry about in the town of Boardman like traffic and other things. i think we can Throw the doggy his bone and leave him and the business alone. I know for sure the nex time i see the dog I will give him a bone and thanks doggy for providing your daily entertainment to all of us here in boardman and keep up the great work.

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36Doctore(52 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Let's make all kinds of comments that have nothing to do with the article. Want the roads paved with the tax levy money? Well you better talk to Mahoning County because the county roads are the ones that aren't being paved (remember all the outrage over Boardman wanting some of the sales tax money back)? Zoning doesn't have anything to do with guns and crime, and the police don't have anything to do with the stupid dog, but don't let that stop your idiotic comments. Lastly, shut down puppy mills, and stop buying dogs. RESCUE.

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37apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Boardman has very little real crime so they concern themselves with these types of activities. Notice how the front page Boardman crime stopped immediately after the passage of the levy in August? Giving them more money was a mistake. Watch the contracts start to milk the township coffers again. Pretty soon, all Boardman employees will be making over a hundred thousand not just the upper echelon. Vote no on the November renewal. Send a message.

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38apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Free asked?

[Freeatlast's avatar] Freeatlast(1012 comments)posted 3 days, 16 hours ago

HAY where is Apollo and how super we are out here in Boardman

I'm here watching the fools who voted for the last levy complain about the fools who run and work in the township. We needed more cops all right. To fight the doggie on the corner of Market and 224. Just like we need more firemen to fight the drive the big trucks to fender benders. The Township is simply run by the least efficient group of clowns that a township could find. Nobody watches who they hire and name recognition is what drives elections. Costello was voted out and then back in. Can't make up your minds? It's mind boggling really.

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39apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Democracy isn't a spectator sport. If only the townships voters gave a rats a** and found out the facts. Crime is NOT rampant. The township is overpaying for little talent. They waste money and built in goofy wages based on inheritance monies. Very little outrage over putting a levy on an August ballot and pulling the wool over the eyes of voters too busy with mundane activities to learn about what's going on here. You gets what you deserve!

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40kensgirl(1044 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Has the waving dog had his shots??? I wouldn't buy a dog there either. Costs twice as much money and the dogs come from mills. Boardman has more impt. problems though. South Youngstown is now moving into North Boardman. Anything north of 224 is dangerous. I lock my car doors after a robbery attempt last year. Four thugs almost got the best of me but ran at the last minute. Concealed carry is the only way to go.

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41Ster1(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

This type of business should never have been allowed to open in this area! They are promoting animal abuse and are not doing society any good. The animals that these stores sell come from puppy mills. In case you've never read up on puppy mills, I have provided a link that shows exactly the conditions these animals live in prior to coming to the pet store, only to be sold for thousands of dollars more than they're worth! http://www.google.com/search?q=puppy+...
The people that run this store must not have a care in the world for animals. They are the sole reason puppy mills still exist. And they want our sympathy so they can get their sales up!!! It's sad to say but this is one business I would love to see take a dive for the worst just so we could be one step closer to shutting down puppy mills. It's truly devastating that people are this heartless. There are thousands of dogs that are in need of adoption all over this country so we need to stop buying cute little puppies that have come from puppy mills and adopt the puppies that truly need our help. You can find any breed of dogs for adoption at this site! Please check it out before you ever decide to go to a pet store. You will not only save a few thousand dollars, but you will save the life of an animal that is in desperate need of a good home!! petfinder.com

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