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Dog Sought

A family is seeking “Zeppi,” an emotional support dog, after his owner was killed in a crash on Interstate 95.

The family of a man who was hit by a vehicle and killed near Santee last week is seeking his emotional support dog, “Zeppi.”

Paul David Tarashuk Jr., 26, of Lewes, Delaware, was walking nude on Interstate 95 on Sept. 10 when a vehicle struck and killed him at mile marker 97, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.

While it’s not yet clear why Tarashuk was not wearing clothes while walking on the interstate, those who knew him best are certain of his love for animals and the love his emotional support dogs had for him.

Tarashuk’s aunt, Lorraine, who asked that her last name be withheld, said her nephew was traveling with his two emotional support dogs, Harley and Zeppi.

When Tarashuk’s vehicle was discovered about one-half mile from the accident location, Harley had “supposedly been left in there for numerous hours,” Lorraine said.

In the meantime, Giuseppe, called “Zeppi,” a 6-year-old black cocker spaniel, managed to leave his vehicle.

Lorraine said the family is desperately trying to find Zeppi.

She’s microchipped, spayed and wearing a collar with tags.

She was last known to be in the area of I-95, possibly near Hannah Drive.

Lorraine described Zeppi as “very gentle and super sweet.”

“I’ve never heard her bark,” she said.

“We just want to know what happened to her. If she’s deceased, we’ll go get her,” Lorraine said, choking back tears.

“We want her to be buried with Paulie.”

She said if someone happened to pick up Zeppi, the family just wants her to be returned.

Orangeburg County Animal Control is trying to help locate Zeppi, too.

On Sept. 14, the OCAC posted on its Facebook page, “We know everyone is going crazy with the hurricane but please let’s get the word out. The gentleman’s mom is desperate to find her. If you have any information, please contact his aunt at 908-370-8111.”

Lorraine is following each lead and tip that she receives.

“He loved animals, he helped (animal) rescues and worked for different rescues,” she said.

Cindy Tarashuk, of New Jersey, said she and her family are on a mission to fine her son’s beloved Zeppi.

“We’ve got to get her back,” she said.

She described her son as “a great person.”

His mother would not discuss why her son was in South Carolina.

She said, “We just want to find Zeppi. That’s all we want to say right now.”

Just as Harley and Zeppi had been canine heroes to Tarashuk, he’s also been a hero to someone too.

On Feb. 24, 2010, he prevented an 88-year-old woman with dementia from driving against the flow of traffic on Route 202-31 in New Jersey, according to the Hunterdon County Democrat newspaper.

Tarashuk, who was 17 at the time, saw the woman steer her Toyota into oncoming traffic.

After he activated his vehicle’s emergency flashers, he blocked the woman’s car with his. The woman put her car in reverse gear and backed out of the intersection, then slowly began to travel south in the northbound lane.

Tarashuk drove parallel to the woman, honking his horn and trying to get her attention. When she turned onto a grassy median to make a U-turn, he pulled onto the median himself to block her.

At that point, the two cars became stuck in the mud.

The woman attempted to pull onto the highway again, the article states, but Tarashuk ran to her and reached into her vehicle and shut it off.

Before medics took the woman away, she told Tarashuk she wanted him to stay with her.

“So I went to the hospital to keep her company,” Tarashuk told the Hunterdon County Democrat.

Tarashuk received honors for his heroism, including a $10,000 Dana Christmas Scholarship for Heroism. The scholarship, which was created by the New Jersey Legislature and funded by Public Service Entertainment Group, honors New Jersey students who have performed exceptional acts of heroism.

Now, his family is hopeful someone will be a hero to Tarashuk’s memory and return Zeppi, if they have her, or help find her.

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Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.

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