East County

Community Rallying to Help East San Diego County Pet Detective Replace Wrecked Van

Van was critical in hauling equipment needed to help track down missing pets

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The aches and pains Babs Fry still feels are a vivid reminder of the rear-end wreck Wednesday near Otay Mesa that she says almost took her life.

“Call it what you want, but at the end of the day, something beyond me was handling things that night. I should have died," explained Fry.

Thankful to be alive, Fry is now worried about replacing her totaled "BabsBus" -- that's what she calls the van that takes her to and from every corner of the county as a pet detective. Yup, that's right -- pet detective. When animals are lost, people call Fry, and she arrives in the BabsBus to help reunite humans and their fury friends.

NBC 7 followed Fry around for a day back in 2020 when she was helping victims of the Valley Fire in Lawson Valley find their pets. Now, without the BabsBus, Fry fears she won't be able to help families in crisis.

“It’s a game changer,” explained Fry. “ It means a lot less efficient use of my time, and without the van I have to pick and choose where I can be and who I can help."

Fry’s is now getting help replacing her van from the community through a Facebook fundraiser.

Lynn Connot, who’s become friends with Fry after working on projects with her, says that Fry gives everything from her heart. That’s why when she saw what happened, she said she felt compelled to be one of the donors who’ve helped Fry raise thousands of dollars.

“She never seems to lose focus of the missing pet and grieving family, and she does whatever she can do to get that dog home safely," said Connot.

“Babs gives her 100%, 24/7. Without her equipment she can't do what she needs to do," said Rita Rodriguez, a volunteer with Fry’s pet recovery company, A Way Home for Dogs.

While Fry’s got a knack for finding animals, the pet detective says finding an inexpensive replacement for her totaled Chevy Express van in the age of COVID has been daunting.

“The cost of used cars is ridiculous. The availability is even more challenging. It’s not as simple as saying. 'I’ll go get a replacement,'" she said.

It's a challenge the community is hoping will be made easier through their generous donations.

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