Peterson pets in good hands

April 24, 2003 

Scott and Laci Peterson's dog, mentioned frequently in news accounts about Laci's disappearance, is with Scott's family in San Diego.

And Scott and Laci's cats are about to be adopted by a friend of Laci's in Modesto.

This information, provided by Laci's friends, answers public questions about what happened to the golden retriever and two cats.

"There's a lot of concern about the welfare of those animals," Mike Rodriguez, director of Stanislaus County Animal Services, said Thursday. "I've received four calls just today. I've heard from people across the country about that."

Scott Peterson, arrested late last week in the slaying of his wife and unborn son, Conner, told Modesto police Christmas Eve that he last saw his wife at 9:30 a.m. that day as he left on a fishing trip and she prepared to go for a walk with McKenzie, their dog.

An hour later, a neighbor found the dog -- with muddy leash attached -- wandering in the neighborhood. She put the dog in the Petersons' yard, not thinking that anything was amiss.

Terri Western, a friend of Laci Peterson's family, said Wednesday: "I know the dog is safe with one of Scott's relatives."

She said McKenzie went to either a sister or brother of Scott Peterson's in Southern California. Calls to his family were not returned Wednesday.

Scott and Laci's cats are adult Siamese mixes named Siam and Gracie.

In February, when police went to search the Petersons' home a second time, Scott Peterson gave officers a bag of cat food as he left.

After that, Lori Ellsworth said, she stopped by her friend Laci's house at least every other day to feed the cats.

She said a growing brood of cats started showing up for the evening feeds on Covena Avenue. The city started to receive calls about all the cats, and animal control officers responded by setting traps -- but they did not catch any of the felines.

Tuesday night, Laci's friends captured Siam and Gracie.

The friends had gone to the Petersons' home for their ritual gathering of stuffed animals -- left at a memorial on the front lawn -- to be turned over to the Children's Crisis Center. Then the friends turned their attention to Siam and Gracie.

Lissa Loeffler said she coaxed them from under a bush with a bit of food, and trapped them in a covered wicker basket.

Rene Tomlinson said the cats were at a veterinarian's office Wednesday night to be checked out. Ellsworth said the cats would be released today to yet another friend, Stacey Boyers.

She will give the cats an indoor home and regular meals, the kind of care that Laci always provided, Ellsworth said.

Bee staff writer Patrick Giblin can be reached at 578-2347 or pgiblin@modbee.com.

Bee staff writer Julissa McKinnon can be reached at 578-2324 or jmckinnon@modbee.com.

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