A family mutt has disappeared, but hope for her return has not

It’s been 71 days since Marisol last came home, but her family isn’t about to give up on her.

On Nov. 2 at Middlesex Fells Reservation in Massachusetts, while out for a routine play session with her regular dog walker, Marisol was attacked by another dog that came bounding out of the woods. The attacker wasn’t wearing a collar or leash.

Marisol, a 3-year-old mutt and former Puerto Rican street dog, yelped. Another dog in the group, Toby, jumped into the fray, which is when Marisol went running. As the fight continued, the attacking dog’s owner came over to pull the brawl apart. By the time Mari’s owners, Andrew and Anindita Sempere, arrived to search for their dog, she had disappeared.

They immediately began a campaign to locate Marisol, whom they had rescued during a volunteer trip to Puerto Rico in May 2008. The Semperes posted signs around the neighborhood, as well as messages on Facebook and Twitter. They started a website, and hired a tracker as well as pet detective Karin TarQwyn.

They posted anguished blog entries addressed to Mari. “Goodnight, Marisol,” reads one post dated Nov. 30. “Sometimes I’m out of words. I just miss you.”

At first, people called the Semperes to report having just played with Mari in the park. “She was targeting people that she thought weren’t threatening. She would come up and play and then leave,” Anindita tells PEOPLEPets.com. “What’s really heartbreaking is that people wouldn’t realize she was alone because she had a collar. Then they would see the sign that she was missing. They would call and say they were going to go back to look, but by then she would be totally gone.”

During the two months since her disappearance, the Semperes have heard about nearly 100 sightings, have recruited a search team of dedicated volunteers and have received donations to help cover the tracking costs. Based on sighting patterns, the current working theory is that Mari stays in the Fells, a 2,500-acre wooded area, during the day, and wanders through residential neighborhoods at night, scavenging for food.

The goal is to better establish the pattern in order to get ahead of her and intercept her. The Semperes have set up camera-equipped comfort stations with food and clothing that smells of home. “Hopefully, if she finds one, she’ll continue coming back [to it],” says Anindita.

What they aren’t doing is giving up – the Semperes believe that the outreach will lead them to Mari, who they say is savvy and street-smart enough to stay out of trouble and survive even the bitter New England winter.

“We know that she can take care of herself,” Anindita says. “In some ways, it’s harder for us than it is for her. Emotionally, you just want to take care of her.”

For more information on the search for Marisol, go to findmarisol.com.