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80-Year-Old, Puppy Kicked Off Bus

November 23, 1997

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ The bus was a Greyhound, but the driver was no dog lover.

An 80-year-old woman returning home from her birthday party was kicked off a bus at a rural truck stop late at night because of her birthday present: a tiny puppy named Cookie.

Dogs aren’t allowed on Greyhound and the driver refused to make an exception, leaving Antonia Sanabria at the side of the road about 80 miles from home at 3 a.m. Friday.

A security guard summoned by the bus driver called Marion County Sheriff’s deputies _ adding to her fright.

``When the bus pulled away and I saw all those policemen I was scared,″ Mrs. Sanabria said. ``I thought they were going to put me in jail. I don’t know, I was crazy with fear. I’ve never gone to jail.″

What could have quickly become a terrifying ordeal for the woman, who walks with a crutch and has trouble hearing and seeing, instead became an inspiration.

After getting her a sandwich and something to drink, police from different jurisdictions teamed up to ferry Mrs. Sanabria all the way from the Ocala area to her Tampa doorstep in five different patrol cars.

``I’ve never seen so many people so nice with me _ an old lady. They gave me love, respect, attention,″ she said. ``Love has a lot of names _ compassion, respect, friendliness.″

As soon as she got home, all Mrs. Sanabria wanted to do was sleep, which she did with her new 7-week-old Pekinese pup.

When she woke up she found a bouquet of roses with a card that read: ``We want you to know there are still some nice people in the world,″ from Hillsborough Sheriff’s deputies in Tampa who coordinated the relay.

Greyhound apologized and gave her a refund on Saturday. The unidentified driver, a 20-year Greyhound veteran, was suspended pending an investigation.

``It’s unfortunate that a lady of this age and condition would have something like this happen to her in the middle of the night,″ said George Gravley, a Greyhound spokesman.

Mrs. Sanabria’s daughter, Sally Creel of Panama City, was outraged, saying: ``What a low-life thing to do.″

But after the police rescue, her mother was far from bitter.

``It was a birthday I’ll never forget,″ Mrs. Sanabria said.

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