Handmade signs promising rewards for lost dogs and cats are everywhere in Charlotte, but only in the Stonehaven community of east Charlotte will you be promised $250 to find a turtle missing nearly six months from someone’s backyard.
The owner, Kim Santee, sounds a little embarrassed to admit Frankie has been gone since last fall, but she refuses to give up on him. Theirs is a relationship that has lasted 10 years, far longer than most of her boyfriends. The turtle was more faithful.
She has named her effort: “Project Find Frankie.”
“I miss my Frankie and I need him back,” says Santee, a restaurant hostess. “He’s a dynamic, Type A personality, curious about people and not timid. My Frankie and I get along so well, because he’s not scared of anybody.”
Frankie, who she believes to be a teenager, roamed freely in her back yard, only coming indoors when he was in the mood. He roamed freely there, too, she says.
The two have been life partners since 2006, when Frankie was rescued from certain death on a six-lane highway in Cabarrus County. Santee says she decided to keep Frankie because she has bad allergies to cats and dogs, and wanted a pet.
“I fell in love with him because he was so interactive … and he had no hair,” she said. “He basically just walked around my yard.”
Frankie didn’t actually escape. Santee says she was on a three-week vacation when a well-intentioned visitor to her home decided Frankie was better suited to a field in the Rama-Sardis roads area.
Santee says she’s now terrified Frankie will be run over by a car or, even worse, picked up by someone who’ll keep him cooped up in an aquarium. That’s turtle hell, she says.
“I’ve gotten eight calls because of the signs, but they were not Frankie,” says Santee. “I can’t sleep at night because I feel responsible for him. I know this sounds bizarre, but I don’t have any children and I love Frankie.”
Researcher Maria David contributed
Have you seen Frankie?
If you see a box turtle with a shell six inches long, it could be Frankie. Call 980-229-0026.