Telephone calls touting the qualities of local politicians are part of the landscape this time of year.
But these recorded phone messages - left on voice mails of residents of one Center City neighborhood recently - were different.
"This is a call from your neighbor, Maryhelen," they said. "Her dog Ozzie went missing on Friday."
The calls offered a reward for Ozzie, a 3-pound, 4-year-old teacup Yorkshire terrier, and gave a phone number where Ozzie's owner, Maryhelen Kelley, could be reached.
FindToto, a nationwide service founded by a California man who had lost his cat, has found more than 3,000 missing or stolen pets for their owners, said spokeswoman Colleen Busch.
The service targets the area where the pet has vanished and calls residential landline phones listed in the phone book.
"It's similar to when the politicians call you during election season," Busch said.
FindToto.com placed the calls, hundreds of them, to a random number of people living near Kelley. Within five minutes of the messages, Kelley, who lives near 22nd and Pemberton streets, began getting "a bunch" of callbacks.
"We did PetAmberAlert, too" Kelley said. That service makes copies of the pet's picture and sends them via fax, e-mail or express mail to veterinarians, animal shelters, pet stores and neighborhood watches.
FindToto and PetAmberAlert charge for their services.
Ozzie's "expressive little face" also graced the neighborhood's Facebook page, Kelley said.
Her sister, Elizabeth, who had come down from Boston to help search for Ozzie, even called a pet detective, Kelley said. "There's only one in this area. He couldn't help because he had five cases in the queue already,'" Kelley said.
In the end, it was good old-fashioned shoe leather, the goodwill of dozens of others, and an unceasing array of posters that finally brought home the little dog, which had gone missing on May 7.
Kelley, who works for Comcast, would get up at 5:30 a.m. looking for the dog.
"I was walking around with Ozzie's little squeaky toy, crying, in the rain," she said.
On May 12, Kelley finally got the call that Ozzie had been found.
A family from an Asian market at 23rd Street and Washington Avenue found the frightened animal - the night he disappeared - after he'd run across four lanes of traffic on Washington, into the store, then straight to the back, where he curled up into a ball, Kelley said.
Tongin Duong, whose family owns the store, EHC Supermarket and General Merchandise, said her mother thought it was a squirrel but when the daughter checked, she found Ozzie "cowering in a corner. It was three hours before he stopped," she said.
"We asked around," Duong said, but nobody seemed to know where the "lovable" little dog had come from. They named him Lucky and she took him to a vet to be checked out, but although Ozzie had an identification chip in his body, it went undetected. Finally, a customer came in and told them about the fliers.
They didn't take the reward, which had grown to $1,000. "That's just not right," Duong said.