The call from the distraught pet owner, was honest and
sincere but tinged with grief and panic. Her two ShihTzus were being cared for by family in Florida. Two weeks earlier
she had received the call, "We're sorry but Teddie and Ellie are missing and we cannot find them". Terrified
and distraught she went to Florida and searched night and day. Unfortunately she uncovered not one clue, sighting
or lead about either of the two dogs. By all appearances it looked as if they had simply vanished.
When Mrs. Hightower first called us the dogs had been missing two weeks. Due
to the different profile of each dog, I surmised that Ellie would allow a stranger to approach but Teddy might not.
We began the campaign with a large Community Awareness Campaign. Signage was developed and the mapping was sent to a
family member in Florida for placement. And then we waited.... and waited... no calls came in with information about
either of the missing dogs. The decision was made that Karin and the dog team would go to Florida and try to
untangle the case.
Joined by Jordina and her team, we began
the case with Brodie who tracked down the street and indicated that Ellie had been picked up in a car. Cade confirmed
Brodie's findings. When we began to track Teddie, we found that the scent article for Teddie was contaminated with Ellie's
scent. We spent the next 45 minutes going through scent articles until, with Cade and Brodie's help, we were able to decipher
and find an article to use for Teddie. Teddie's track was longer than Ellie's but like Ellie, Teddie's scent ended at a street.
Based on this information, we designed a new campaign aimed at finding who had picked up the two little dogs.
The campaign was set in motion and the wait began.
Weeks and then months went by with no word of the two dogs. Calls did come in but time after time, when investigated
it was found that the leads were not Teddie or Ellie. Then with the five month missing anniversary coming up... a call came
in and we received this email from Mrs. HIghtower:
Ms Karin. Its been a while but i got news this past Thursday October the 18th exactly 5 months since my babies been missing.
This guy from Jacksonville says he has had them for 3 months. He sent me pictures and I was able to identify
them immediately. I want to go get them this Saturday morning. He definitely wants the reward. He sounds like a nice
guy but I do not know why he kept them for so long. Please call me so you can advise me on how to go forward and
get my babies back.
We were overjoyed for our
client but also very cautious... We suggested our protocol for recovering a dog that has been found by a citizen, be
put into effect and that Mrs. Hightower proceed under those instructions.
Saturday arrived and we received the call from Mrs. Hightower as she waited outside the public establishment
we had selected. Law enforcement had been called as a money transaction and transfer was about to take place. We
are always concerned under these circumstance for the well being of the client as well as the pets. A
man drove up with the two dogs and the transfer and transaction occurred. The finder explained that he had found the two dogs together
about three months ago walking on a bridge about five miles from where they had went missing. They were dirty but not
starving and after he picked the dogs up, he decided to keep them. Now he and his wife needed the money so
they looked for the owners. I encouraged Mrs. Hightower to thank the man and leave. She drove home and began to get to know
her returning family members. All are doing well and are happy to be together again.
I am ecstatic at Teddie and Ellie's return. We will probably never know what really happened during the two dogs
journey, but the fact that they are now home is information enough... CASE CLOSED!