Buddy’s back! Stolen library pet returned unharmed

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer June 15, 2013 01:20 pm

Buddy the bearded dragon is back home at his terrarium at the Brookings library. The Pilot/Jane Stebbins
Buddy the bearded dragon is back home at his terrarium at the Brookings library. The Pilot/Jane Stebbins
Dori’s dragon is home.

“She’s home, home, she’s home!” exclaimed Dori Blodgett, the children’s librarian at the Chetco Community Public Library in Brookings. “All’s well that ends well.”

She credits social media for the happy ending.

The dragon in question is Buddy, a foot-long reptile, who has enthralled visitors to the library for the past five years. She was in her 25-gallon tank at 4 Wednesday afternoon, Blodgett said, and when she returned two hours later, the lid of the tank was off and the dragon was gone.

“I did a huge Facebook (message), and it went viral,” Blodgett said.

“I had more than 100 shares and comments. I believe that’s what led to the finding of Buddy.”

She received a call at 10 a.m. Thursday from an adult male who asked her if the popular lizard was missing.

“I said, ‘Yes,’ and he asked, ‘Was it stolen?’” Blodgett related. “He said, ‘I know who has it, and I’m going to bring your dragon in with the responsible parties.’”

Dori told the man that she had been waiting all morning to hear something.

“I hope she’s OK. She’s never, ever, ever left her habitat,” she told the caller.

Two young boys admitted taking the dragon lizard because they were concerned about its welfare, Blodgett said. They and their father brought Buddy back to the library that afternoon.

And after showing the youth how the lizards are cared for, they ended up volunteering their services to clean Buddy’s cage, feed the lizard and build her a new habitat.

“They apologized – sincerely apologized,” Blodgett said. “It was a case of not understanding how well Buddy was being taken care of. We went over all Buddy’s essential needs, what we do to take care of her and how much the kids look forward to seeing her.” 

Buddy apparently took the entire lizard-napping incident in stride. She was quietly basking in the warmth of her heat lamp Thursday afternoon – and in the adoration and relief of library staff and others.

Blodgett had notified the police, but realizing they would have few clues to investigate, placed a comment on Facebook Wednesday night.

“I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “Someone apparently told the parents they’d heard on Facebook about the missing dragon. They were notified –  as were probably all the parents in the community. You can’t miss something like this in your house; it’s not like a puppy or kitty. I don’t know how you’d hide it.”

Her posting, “Someone STOLE THE LIBRARY BEARDED DRAGON! I am really mad!!!! Who would steal her? Please share and help us get Buddy back.”

And the comments poured in.

People asked if Buddy could have jumped from the tank.

“She’s never climbed her glass before,” Blodgett said.

They wondered if she could have been released and was exploring the library.

Blodgett said she had suspicions, as a group of boys were hanging out near the tank at about the time the lizard disappeared.

As the hours ticked on, the comments continued.

“Have you found her yet?” wrote Lisa Kramer. “I hope whoever stole her is at least taking care of her. But I truly hope she gets back home.”

The library staff purchased Buddy for $85 from an exotic pets store about five years ago to replace Don, an iguana that “lasted forever,” Blodgett said. “We went without a lizard for a long time.”

The research material was at the tips of the librarian’s fingers, and Blodgett decided to acquire Pogona vitticeps – a bearded dragon lizard – the most social of all exotic lizards. The library staff was able to get Buddy at a reduced price because one of the reptile’s parents had bitten off the end of her tail.

“When the kids are here, she comes right to the glass and watches them,” Blodgett said. “She sits there and nods and watches.”

Buddy joined the menagerie of Steve the pond and river turtle, canaries Lemon Drop and Gum Drop, and finches Flitter and Flutter.

The birds actually have hundreds of names, Blodgett said, as the children have all given them monikers of their own.

“They feel ownership of these creatures,” Blodgett said. “They make a beeline to the back to see them. They come back as older youth and ask, ‘Whatever happened to …?’”

“Three cheers for Facebook and the power of friends!” Blodgett posted Thursday afternoon. “You ALL helped in finding her. Thank you all!”

“We’ve never, ever, ever, had someone take our critters,” Blodgett said later. “But she’s healthy and she looks good. It ended very well. It’s a great outcome. And we may have even made some new friends.”