- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2001

The first shock was finding the door of her Rockville, Md., apartment door unlocked. The worst was not finding her service dog, Bailey, inside where she had been when Kellee Valinski left for work.
That was March 26 — more than a month ago. Since then, Miss Valinski has gotten by without Bailey to help her out of bed on bad days or lick her ears to warn that a migraine headache is coming.
Someone took all that away, along with the dog, a leather harness and a braided leash. So the 35-year-old legal secretary has resumed taking medication regularly to prevent the migraines she cant anticipate.
The headaches are one symptom of her illness — fibromyalgia — that the 3 and 1/2 year-old Siberian husky service dog helped her through.
"She provides emotional support for chronic pain and balance problems," Miss Valinski said.
And Baileys need for walks gave Miss Valinski the impetus to do the exercise she said she needs to manage her condition. A chronic rheumatic disorder, fibromyalgia is distinguished by stiffness and pain in muscles and connective tissue.
Sufferers frequently face fatigue ranging from feeling tired to flulike exhaustion. Stress exacerbates the syndrome, Miss Valinski said.
She has been awfully worried about where Bailey is, how she is treated and, given the huskys tendency to get an upset stomach, whether shes eating.
Its hard to understand why someone would break into her home and take the dog and, strangely, a packet of pictures that feature Bailey. "Maybe they wanted her because shes beautiful and very well-trained," Miss Valinski said.
She is also worried that her dog, who is spayed, might have been taken for breeding.
The case is under "active" investigation, and police are "focusing on a suspect or two," said Officer Louise Marthens, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman.
At first, neighbors in her King Farm neighborhood didnt recall anything unusual when asked for clues about who might have entered Miss Valinskis apartment and left with her valued canine helper and friend.
With much building and utility work still under way in that burgeoning Rockville development, its easy not to notice people coming and going.
Yet a service dog — accustomed to working and probably restless without her job and her owner — might display some telling signs. Bailey is likely to react to her name and may automatically pick up a dropped object and carry it to someone.
But the stress of prolonged separation and strange surroundings could make Bailey defensive or cause less normal behavior, Miss Valinski said.
"She can be stubborn and stand her ground if she thinks theres danger," Miss Valinski said.
"Ive always said were alike. Were determined."
So shes still hoping someone will help her find Bailey.
CrimeSolvers of Montgomery County is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the thief.
Anyone with a tip is urged to call CrimeSolvers at 800/673-2777.


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