Missing whippet whips up the US

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But so far, the owners of Vivi, a show dog that bolted from her crate at Kennedy international airport on 15 February after competing at the Westminster Kennel Club show, have yet to track down their beloved prize-winning whippet.

Vivi's co-owner, Paul Lepiane, remains optimistic that the dog can still be found, saying the search team is hot on her trail. "We've never been this close," said Mr Lepiane, who on Wed-nesday received a call that Vivi was spotted in a park in the New York borough of Queens - one of several recent sightings.

The plight of the pure-bred from southern California lost in the rough-and-tumble of New York City in the middle of winter has captured the attention of people around the country.

Vivi is valued at $15,000 (£8,000) to $20,000 and won an award at the Westminster show.

'"People feel nationwide that they're involved," said Karin Goin, a pet detective who joined the case from Oklahoma. "People who have never met Vivi, and never been in New York City."

More than 100 people have helped look for Vivi, Mr Lepiane said. A weekend party at a hotel nightclub raised $8,000 for the search. Advice and offers have poured in - including tips from 30 psychics.

Whippets can sprint up to 40 miles per hour and can be more nomadic than other dogs, making the search more difficult, Mr Lepiane said. He fears that someone will chase her and that she will get scared and dart into traffic. AP