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South Salem Family Searches for Lost Pet Tortoise

It’s not unusual to see a flier for a lost dog or cat pinned to a community bulletin board or telephone pole. But how often do you see one asking for help locating a lost tortoise?

That’s exactly what Lewisboro-area residents have been seeing around town this past week. South Salem resident Dr. Carol Gamez, a veterinarian with a practice in Georgetown, Ct., is missing her beloved Russian tortoise, Shellby.

“Shellby was a rescue from the [animal] hospital a few years ago and she came in such poor condition,” Gamez said. “She had pneumonia, malnutrition and she needed lots of care. She had to be put on a feeding tube.”

Gamez developed a strong affinity for the tortoise and when it was healthy enough, she adopted it as a family pet. Her husband even built Shellby a tortoise garden both in and outside their house.

“It’s filled with safe plants and weeds and edible plants,” she said.

During the winter, the tortoise, which is native to Russian and parts of Asia, is kept in the house. When the warmer months arrive she is moved to the outside garden.

Shellby somehow made a break for it during bath time on June 1.

“She was bathing – taking a soak,” Gamez said. “She’s gotten pretty clever and somehow she made a break for it. We were heartbroken. Our whole neighborhood knows Shellby.”

Shellby is about 11 years old and approximately seven inches long. Gamez said she knows it’s a long shot, but she’s hoping someone will notice her, scoop her up and put her in a box and bring her home.

“She does have certain habits,” Gamez said. “She likes to sun herself and she comes out in the morning. We just hope she hasn’t gone too far.”

Russian tortoises can survive just fine this time of year, but a cold Northeastern winter would likely prove fatal. But Gamez has more immediate concerns about Shellby’s safety.

“Lawnmowers, cars and dogs are a big worry,” she said.

A $50 reward is being offered for the safe return of Shellby. If you find her, call (914) 763-5364 or (914) 552-5324

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