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Police call off dog-gone search for Westminster whippet

Canine on lam after winning breed award, escaping from cage

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Bohem C'est La Vie escaped at JFK International Airport on Wednesday.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Such is life -- police called off the search Thursday for award-winning show dog Bohem C'est La Vie, who bolted from her travel cage at a New York airport after she took a breed award at this week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The dog, a brown-and-white female whippet, was scheduled to travel with her owners on a Delta Air Lines flight from John F. Kennedy Airport to California, but the dog escaped from her travel cage about noon Wednesday, said Tiffany Townsend, a spokeswoman for the New York Port Authority.

Port Authority Police searched the airport grounds twice for the dog Thursday, to no avail. They also dispatched a helicopter for several hours Wednesday to assist ground vehicles in the search.

Bohem C'est La Vie was seen fluttering about the marshland surrounding JFK, but police weren't able to catch her. Delta spokeswoman Susan West said the airline was assisting police in the search.

Authorities said Thursday that they are calling off the concerted effort to find the dog, but they will keep their eyes peeled for her during routine patrols.

The dog's owners, Jil Walton and Paul Lepiane, were initially involved in the search but have left the airport, officials said.

"Whippets are really friendly and sweet, but they also have really good survival instincts built into them," Lepiane said. "So the biggest concerns are the cold weather coming in a day or so -- because they have short, thin coats -- and the traffic. If she stays on the airport grounds I think she will be fine until we find her."

An unspecified, but "substantial," reward has been offered for the dog's safe return, Lepiane said, without elaborating.

Bohem C'est La Vie won an award of merit in her breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, held at Madison Square Garden on Monday and Tuesday.

According to the American Whippet Club, the whippet is a medium-size member of the sight hound family and is similar in appearance to the greyhound, only smaller.

CNN News Assistant Stacey Francisco contributed to this report.

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