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Thursday, 9 March, 2000, 12:29 GMT
$50,000 reward for dog killer
Leo
Leo's story has touched dog lovers worldwide
Dog lovers have collected almost $50,000 in reward money to catch the killer of the little dog, Leo, killed in a bizarre case of road rage in California.

The Bichon Frise lapdog was hurled into traffic after an altercation between Leo's owner, Sara Burnett, and another driver.

Ms McBurnett was in traffic last month when she allegedly bumped the vehicle in front of her.

The driver stormed out and began shouting at Ms McBurnett. When she opened her window to respond, he reached in her car, grabbed Leo and threw him into three lanes of oncoming traffic.


It's so symbolic that such an innocent fluffy little ball of life could be taken by such needless violence

Sara McBurnett, Leo's owner
Now animal lovers are determined to catch the culprit.

"We've been inundated with phone calls. The outpouring has been incredible," said Leslie Baikie of the Humane Society of Santa Clara Valley, which is co-ordinating response to the attact.

The sad tale has prompted hundreds of people to contribute to a reward fund set up to catch the killer.

"People have been sending in cheques and cash," Baikie said. "People have pledged more," she said, adding that with the pledge money, the reward fund stands at about $50,000.

Emotional appeal

Local newspapers, radio and television stations have transformed Leo's story into a cause celebre, touching people as far away as Norway and Australia.

"The story has haunted me for the last couple of days," one reader wrote to the San Francisco Examiner.

Police have narrowed their search for the killer to a Ford Explorer with Virginia licence plates. And they have drivers's licence pictures from Viginia of a number of suspects.

Ms McBurnett said she hoped that Leo's violent death would serve as a wake-up call to the dangers of violence in society.

"It's so symbolic that such an innocent fluffy little ball of life could be taken by such needless violence," she told the San Jose Mercury News.

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