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Killed Cat's Owner Seeks Database

Centreville's Peter Zrowka cherished his cat. The gray, male Himalayan had blue eyes and long hair and was 14 years old. When he was born, Zrowka named the kitten Remax, after its father, Maximillian, since it seemed to him to be Maximillian reincarnated.

But two marauding huskies recently killed Remax, in his own yard, and a heartbroken Zrowka would like Animal Control personnel to find them before they kill anyone else's pet. However, owners don't register their pets by breed in Fairfax County, so no one's been able to find the dogs.

"What if these dogs were rabid or attacked a child?" he asked. "There'd be no way of tracking them down."

Zrowka, 69, lives in the Manorgate community and said Remax was part of his family. "The kids grew up and moved to Manassas and gave us the cat," he said. "He and his brother from the next litter — Opie because he was a redhead — liked to sun themselves on our back deck."

All was well until July 27, about 6:30 p.m. Remax was outside alone, and Zrowka and his wife Pris were just sitting down to dinner. Through their kitchen windows they saw two, big, silver-gray and white huskies in their yard. "I believe they were Siberian huskies," said Zrowka. He said both were wearing collars.

"At first, we thought they were chasing a squirrel, and then my wife said, 'Oh, my God, they're chasing Remax,'" he said. "He tried to escape into a neighbor's yard and was at the base of the fence, about to jump up and clear it, when one of the huskies grabbed his leg and ripped it open. The next thing I knew, the other husky stepped on and crushed his spine and shook him like a rag doll."

Zrowka raced outside but, when he reached Remax, the cat was barely breathing. He then grabbed a stick and separated the dogs from his cat. "My wife was fearful that the dogs might attack me, too, but they took off," he said. "I took Remax into the house and discovered his underside was bleeding profusely."

His wife called a veterinarian in Centreville Square and, although it was closing time, the vet agreed to stay open for them. Knowing their beloved pet was in really bad shape, they improvised a litter out of towels for Remax, placed him gently on the back seat of their car and rushed him to the vet.

The vet examined him and, within a matter of five minutes, told the Zrowkas their cat had died. "I felt very sad, and my wife cried," said Zrowka. "I called [Fairfax County] Animal Control, and they came to the house, within the hour. We explained the whole story to them, and they said they'd check around."

Meanwhile, two neighbors formed a patrol and went through the neighborhood to see if they could spot the huskies. Zrowka had never seen these particular dogs in the area before. And, he said, "Animal Control cautioned us not to go to their owners' home, but to inform them [if we learned where they lived]."

The incident was posted on his homeowners association's Web site, and Zrowka continued to do his own investigating. He followed up one lead and told Animal Control about another, but neither panned out. Then he had another idea.

"I asked the county if they had a database, by breed, of who owned what here," said Zrowka. "But the county doesn't have this capability, and I have a couple suggestions. I'm doing this out of concern. We have a lot of children that play in our cul-de-sac, and I'm concerned that the dogs might have attacked a child."

Furthermore, he said, "I learned from someone who formerly owned huskies that they run as a pack and are mentally geared to attack. So my cat never had a chance. Our seven grandchildren, ages 7-21, were upset about Remax's death. Even the lady who cleans our house and sometimes cat sits for us was crying."

Zrowka believes the county could create a database easily if an animal's breed, address and its owner's address were included on the form filled out by owners when they register or license their animals in Fairfax County. "I saw the dogs firsthand and gave a good description of them, but still they haven't been found," he said. "And I think they live in Centreville."

Anyone with any information about these dogs or their owners may e-mail him at zieglar@aol.com or contact Animal Control at 703-691-2131. Zrowka said the police department's Animal Control section did the best it could, but a database could be a valuable tool.

Police spokesman Bud Walker said it's really a matter for local politicians to handle. "It would require a change in the law for us to start gathering this type of information and keep it," he explained. "We'd have to have authorization to do so."

Mike Coyle, Supervisor Michael R. Frey's (R-Sully) staff assistant, said the Board of Supervisors could probably direct county staff to investigate the possibilty. However, he added, "Staff would also have to look at the benefits and costs associated with it."