Desperate bid to save stranded dog

Time is running out for 10-year-old pedigree boxer Gypsy who has been slowly dying on an island on Lake Illawarra.Gypsy became stranded on Bevans Island with her companion, a Maltese terrier named Princess, 11, nine weeks ago.Princess has since died of starvation. Gypsy is deeply emaciated and not far behind.Just how the two dogs got on the island is a mystery to her carers Warren and Greta Bush, of Lake Illawarra.Even more of a puzzle is the means of rescuing survivor Gypsy. After more than two months' effort by the RSPCA, the options are becoming exhausted.Mrs Bush said the two dogs belonged to her daughter and son-in-law who rented a home in Addison Ave."They came home one day and found the dogs were gone," Mrs Bush said."All we can think is someone let them out because there were no holes in or under the fence - no way of escaping."They've somehow crossed to the island and have been unable to come off."The family advertised the missing dogs in local shops while keeping in regular contact with the RSPCA.Two weeks after the dogs' disappearance, a man reported seeing them running along the shoreline of Bevans Island.Mr Bush used his runabout to visit with the family. Upon arrival they were greeted by tragedy."They saw the dogs, and called them, but when they got closer they saw little Princess at the side of the sandbank. She was dead," Mrs Bush said."My daughter was so upset; she brought her home and buried her."Adding to the trauma, efforts to call Gypsy were unsuccessful, the dog running into the bush without registering the calls, leading the family to believe she may have a hearing problem. Because of extremely dense scrub, they were unable to enter the bush to search for her.The RSPCA was brought in, an inspector spending several hours trying to locate the dog. Efforts with a tranquiliser gun were unsuccessful as Gypsy was able to flee before the dart took effect.Traps have been placed on the island with Gypsy's food inside, however the dog refuses to enter the cage."We've seen her sleeping near where we put the food, metres away from the trap, but she wouldn't go near it," Mrs Bush said. The trap was used as a lure for six days."She was an old dog who was starving to death. It would have been kinder to put her down," Mrs Bush said.The drama has proved an additional ordeal for Mr Bush, a storeman who works 12-hour days in Sydney only to return home every second evening to leave food for Gypsy. How often she takes the food is uncertain.He last saw her on Tuesday evening. Food was left for her last night."She's not in good nick. I don't think she's got much longer. She takes the food but I think she's now got other health problems," Mr Bush said. The family was at wits' end to find a solution."Surely, there's got to be a way. Maybe someone else has a better idea because this can't go on. It's just torture," Mrs Bush said.An RSPCA spokeswoman said efforts were being made to gain Gypsy's trust so that she could be coaxed out of the bush, a process that would take time."We understand the dog has been on the island for quite some time and we appreciate everyone who is trying to help."However, we need the least number of people as possible to go onto the island because the dog is extremely timid and it's just scaring her off."

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