The Chihuahua huddled in the mangled wreckage of his owner’s van for two days, unheard and unseen. Until Monday.
That’s when a Kootenai County sheriff’s deputy found the small dog, named Uno Solo, while re-examining the van at an impound lot. The dog’s owner, Marie-Claire M. Steinkamp, 85, was killed in the crash on Saturday near Hauser that Uno Solo survived.
Investigators believe Steinkamp drove her 1995 Aerostar through a stop sign on Prairie Avenue at Pleasant View Road before driving into the side of a semitruck. Officials have been unable to find family members of Steinkamp, who had been living in her van.
“We actually went over to the tow yard to do some follow-up with the car and located (the dog) in the wreckage,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Stu Miller said. “We had no idea.”
Deputies had found a kennel in the wreckage, but the dog wasn’t inside it. The van was full of Steinkamp’s possessions and was severely damaged in the crash, Miller said.
The dog appears to be well-trained, Miller said.
“He had to go to the bathroom when he got out,” he said. “He didn’t go while he was in there.”
Miller said he is still searching for any surviving family members. Steinkamp had listed a Spokane attorney as her emergency contact. The attorney never met her, but someone else in the office had previously written a will for Steinkamp in 2011. Steinkamp left all her belongings to a Belgian shepherd named Fritz, Miller said. Miller said Fritz is likely a dog previously owned by Steinkamp.
A sister living in Canada at the time had Alzheimer’s disease and is believed to be deceased, Miller said.
Uno Solo is now with Power of the Paw animal rescue and looking for a new home. Rescue founder Autumn Jolley said she’d been in touch with a local pet resort that took care of the dog recently while Steinkamp was hospitalized.
“They knew that the dog meant a lot to the lady who passed away,” Jolley said.
Uno Solo reportedly gets along well with other dogs but not small children. His adoption fee is $150, which includes vaccinations, a vet check, microchip and some needed dental work. Anyone interested in adopting him can visit www.powerofthepaw.org for an application.
Jolley said Uno Solo was not injured in the crash.
“He’s doing fine physically,” she said. “He’s definitely confused and nervous and doesn’t know what’s going on and why he isn’t with his mom anymore.”
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