Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Children bring friend home

Mexican puppy welcomed to family

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WHEN Emily Cablek boarded the plane for Mexico on Friday to be reunited with her two children, she had no idea she would soon welcome a new member of the family, too.

Her now nine-year-old daughter, Abby, was clutching a small mixed breed puppy when she and her big brother, Dominic, were rescued in Guadalajara that same day.

Considering what the young pair had been through for the past 45 months, police and immigration officials were only too happy to process the necessary paperwork to help the pooch immigrate to Canada.

Diane Ablonczy, Canada's minister of state of foreign affairs, said in Ottawa the arrival of the dog in Winnipeg is evidence of the high level of co-operation between officials in both Mexico and Canada.

"The interesting thing was that Abby, the little girl, didn't want to leave without her dog and so they were able to get the dog out," Ablonczy said Monday in a scrum with reporters. "That, I think, meant so much to the children because that was their friend there and it was just such a happy day, not just for the children and their mother, but so many supporters that had worked long and hard to make sure that this came about."

Among the hoops for the little dog to cross were a need to ensure the dog had the correct immunizations to come into Canada.

"Everything that needed to be done was done to get that little dog here," said Manitoba MP Joy Smith.

Smith stepped in to help after being approached by both the kids' mother and some contacts at the Winnipeg Police Service about a year and a half ago. Smith worked with the Mexican ambassador to Canada to ask for help.

"Diplomatically everybody worked together," said Smith. "And it's a happy day."

Ablonczy said authorities had zeroed in on the kids' whereabouts at least once before but the father got wind of it and was able to move the kids before authorities moved in.

The dog is seen sitting happily in Abby's lap in a new family photo that was released Monday afternoon.

Dominic, meanwhile, was looking forward to his first Slurpee at 7-Eleven.

It wasn't your typical airport reunion, with tears and hugs being exchanged at the bottom of the escalator. An emotional airport scene can put an enormous amount of pressure on everybody involved, particularly the children, and can be equally traumatizing as the abduction in the first place, said Christy Dzikowicz, director of missing children services with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, formerly Child Find Manitoba.

"The concern was getting them out (of the country) so the reunion was very quick. It was a quick introduction and then off to the airport. We spent a little bit of time talking and had a flight to catch. We very much kept it light. The kids have been champs," she said.

Dzikowicz admitted there were "serious concerns" about the children's safety when the police moved in but there may be even bigger worries about their living conditions since 2008.

"These two little people have been relatively confined to a home with barbed wire fencing, chains on the doors and bars on the windows. They weren't allowed out during the daylight hours, they didn't go to school, they did not have medical care and they did not have friends. We're extraordinarily grateful that they had each other," she said.

Despite the obvious attention that the story brings, Dzikowicz pleaded to media and the public that they give Cablek and her children the privacy they need so that they can heal and start to lead normal lives.

"I've watched cameramen and interviewers with tears in their eyes as Emily made her pleas. I know people care. The damage that can be done if these kids are intruded on (is significant) even now that they're doing well. They don't need to be bombarded with people. Nobody should have to go through what they've been through for the last three-and-a-half years," she said.


-- with file from Mia Rabson

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 29, 2012 A4

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