Hunter & Robin take off on an innocent adventure...
  
Doggy Mom Pat experiences a pet owner's worst nightmare...
her beloved family members are seized and sold to a puppy mill!

Monday, February 18, 2008, President’s day, started like any other day…   It was cool and dreary, but after all it is February. My home is located at the end of a long single driveway of over 500 ft, with no other access to the property, in addition there is a farm gate across the driveway near a rural road, outside a small town.

I was up as usual, fed the dogs, took care of a few chores, then off to coffee at about 8:30 am…  I had a couple of errands to run and was home by 10:15 am.  As I drove up I KNEW that something was wrong. 

Quickly counted my dogs and KNEW that Hunter and Robin were missing.  There was a little hole in the gate where they had escaped.  OH CRAP!!  I quickly secured the gate so there would be no more escapes and headed for the road.  On my way I called a girl friend to help me search, I covered the area in front of the house and along the road, and then the sub division to the west.  My girl friend came from the other way and covered the subdivision on the east and north.  No Sign of dogs anywhere – there were kids out playing (it WAS a holiday) no sightings, and the ole hounds dogs lying around were not in any way excited (as they would be if strange dogs had been near).  I called the local vets, and talked to all the neighbors, and of course called and called for my dogs.  Even tho I KNEW that Hunter would not choose to go off the paved road, I checked the back of the property… Within two hours I KNEW that someone had picked them up from the road in front of my house… No one anywhere had seen my dogs.

Hunter is a Honey Pied male French Bulldog,  14 months old, at the time of escape,  about 20 pounds – mostly white with just a touch of cream on his ears and a tiny spot on his side.  Robin is a brindle French Bulldog with a big white chest, 20 months old, about 22 pounds.  Both were entered in a show in two weeks.  All of my dogs are micro chipped, but neither  Hunter nor Robin had on a collar.

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Our magnificent CADE!!!

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I immediately made up some fliers and started putting them up everywhere.  I went to the police station and told them what had happened and gave them enough fliers for each of the patrolmen, and explained that I was sure someone had picked them up and they could be in someone’s home or yard. I talked to the Sheriff & left fliers for all the deputies.  I put fliers in the convenience stores. 

I put a lost dogs ad in the local paper…

Over the course of the next few days and then weeks, I did everything that anyone suggested…  I called Avid (my chip company) they put Hunter and Robin’s micro chip numbers  on a hot list, I called PetTract (the companion animal registry for Avid chips) and put them on their Hot list too.  I happen to meet a vet at a dog show – told him my tale of woe… he asked me to email him a poster and he’d put it on the VET server e-list for Oklahoma vets.  I called and emailed vets in the state, I asked that the notice be put on French Bulldog rescue sites, and it went out on all the frenchie e-lists, and I asked all of those people to please pass it on and take the flier to their local vets.  I joined the K9 AmberAlert e-list.

I went to all the service people in my town, the electric company guys all had fliers in their trucks, the water department guys, the local propane company guys, plumbers, heat and air guys. I even gave fliers to the tree trimmer who were in town due to the big ice storm we’d had in mid-December.

 If I met someone from another town in my area I would give them fliers and ask the people to post them in their community. And I went back to the Sheriff and police and reminded them that my dogs were still missing and to please keep looking, and every week there was an ad in our local paper.  I checked the OKC paper constantly, and a friend was checking the Tulsa paper for me…  I went to schools, and police departments in the surrounding towns.  All the businesses in town had a flier (don’t forget the beauty shops

The time went by and STILL there were no sightings…  and every day I did something -  put up more flyers (the backs of metal signs are great..  put the flyer in a sheet protector – seal it with tape and then tape the thing on all sides to the back of a sign – they lasted NICELY thru wind and an 8” rain) Talked to people and continued to drive around town looking for them…  All to no avail  - No one had seen anything.

After my dogs were missing for 8 weeks, I found out about a pet detective who is located in Oklahoma. Her name is Karin Goin – her website is at http://www.karinthepi.com/index.html - when I talked to her she was in Texas.  So we made arrangements to meet and do some investigating the next week.  Karin has some magnificent dogs with the better noses you have ever dreamed of.

 Karin came to my place – now remember it has been 9 weeks of nasty weather, huge amounts of rain and continuous wind.  The only scent item I have is Hunter’s nylon show collar that he had worn in mid December, 4 months earlier. It had been stashed in my show bag with all the other stuff… When I talked to Karin I carefully fished the collar out of the show bag and put it in a zip lock baggie with cotton balls.  I had no scent item for Robin..  by this time all the collars and bedding had been washed and used by other dogs. (if your dog goes missing – make sure you put some scent item away immediately- and label it).  Anyway she got out Cade, who is a blue tick hound/chocolate lab mix.  After all this time this great dog was able to track where my dogs had roamed. We were across the road from of my house, and were at the back of the property – the trail was gone…  we were deciding what to do next – both of us sure that the dogs had been picked up and there was no more trail to follow…

Then a young man came to us and told us he was pretty sure he knew where the dogs were.  So we quizzed him very thoroughly..  He gave us a  name and town in another part of the county, 20 miles away. He seemed sincere and not devious .. So we gathered up and went to the area. (Fortunately for me Karin didn’t have other appointments that day)  I was able to get to directions to the house which was in a rural area.  – The directions weren’t exact – but got us on the right road.  Again Karin took Cade out – at a mile away east of the suspected property  – no scent, then  ½ mile away – no scent -  and then at a ¼ mile away from the suspected property, Cade scented Hunter on the wind from the property and started pulling Karin to the driveway of the property and wanted to go into the place , which we didn’t do.…  we then to the west  side of the property and did the same and Cade wanted to go onto the property …  Karin was SURE that Cade had scented Hunter on the property..  AND there were a LOT of yappy dogs on the property – which you couldn’t see from the road, but you could hear them.  We, of course,  did not go on to the property.

We went back to the county seat, to the sheriff’s office. We explained the situation – one of the deputies brought one of my flyers from his office (I had been there several times) we told them how we had come to find this property and that the Karin’s dog, Cade,  has scented my dogs on the property. And that if we didn’t get help these people would move my dogs and I’d never see them again. 

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The sheriff agreed to  send a couple of deputies to the property and he wanted us to back there as well. I had my chip reader with me and Hunter and Robin’s chip numbers.  I asked a friend to go to my house and get one of my other dogs that had a chip and bring her to this other town.  So we picked her and my dog up and went to the property.  One of the deputies stopped at the road (they wanted us off the property) and I showed him how to use the chip reader with my other dog. I gave him the Hunter & Robin’s chip numbers, and the 800 – Avid number so they could verify that those numbers were registered to me and had been reported stolen.

The wait was endless…..  finally the deputy came out and said that my dogs were on the property. The deputies  had verified that they were in fact my dogs by their microchips, and had called Avid to verify that the chips were registered to me and had been reported stolen.

 Ok..   Now they were deciding what to do.

This wait was an  E T E R N I T Y.

Finally the deputy that had been keeping us informed, came out and told us they were bringing the dogs out (oh JOY!! JOY!! – get a grip - remember to keep it low key!!)  So they brought the dogs out and allowed me to see and touch them – It was THEM!!!! YES!!!  BUT they couldn’t let me have them yet – they would transport them back to the Sheriff’s office – they still had to talk to the DA – meet us there…  OK..  They verified again that the chip numbers matched and away they went…  with my dogs…

So we went to the Sheriff’s office, and half the court house personnel were there – checking out the dogs (they had heard about the dogs being found on the police scanner)   The DA walked in about the same time we did.  She looked at the dogs, and talked to the deputies & asked me if I had any other paperwork – yes, their registration papers and rabies certificates,  at home… She said “Go get the papers, let the deputies copy them for the records and then you can have your dogs”  We rushed home– I grabbed the papers  and back we went…..  They copied them… and then they wanted photos of the dogs… So I helped with that (they had my babies in the drunk tank cell for safe keeping!!!)  and then we left with the dogs….

An emotional  roller coaster…  I had really

thought when Karin came, that we would check the area, and find indeed that the dogs had been picked up and we would proceed with the next step of bigger posters, bigger rewards, etc.

To get the information tip when I had the best help in the world, someone who really knows the ropes, and helped to make my case with the sheriff, and the sheriff and his deputies who fully understood the situation and believed enough to go check and then bring my babies out all coming together at the same time is truly a miracle…

After talking to the informant again – I realized that people near my home had seen my dogs, gathered them up, and called someone to transport my dog to a property in another part of the county and sell them.  Most likely, the dogs were sold within  an hour of Hunter and Robin getting out of the gate.  These people  HAD to know they were my dogs.

Robin and Hunter were ok…  Hunter was at about ideal weight – but was very, very clingy.  Robin had lost about 6 pounds – she was down to 16 pounds..  Hunter has since calmed down and is much more settled.  Robin is gaining weight and is regaining her usual “I’m a bitch” attitude.  I had them carefully checked at my vets and all was well other than some very minor things…

 Due to the laws in this state (and in most others) if a dog is taken outside your fence – there is no penalty.  If they take your cow, or your horse, or your bike, or your dog’s food bowl outside your fence – that is theft. But it is NOT theft if they take your dog.

I have been in contact with my local legislators and we are trying to devise a plan whereby the state laws can be changed to protect people who have dogs the same way people with cattle are protected.  I also understand there will be national legislation proposed next year to protect dogs and their owners.  At least there will recourse…

This has been a learning experience. 

I found that there is no way to notify all of the vets and shelters in my area without contacting each separately (I contacted a bunch), I found that there is no way to prosecute these individuals. I have found that micro-chips are wonderful tools ONCE the dog is located.  I am hoping for GPS chips very soon.  And if someone has your dog like these people did – unless you get a very lucky break it is almost impossible to get them  back.  I found that if your dogs are micro chipped – it is a simple matter for someone else to call PetTract and change the registration to themselves – so that should be one of your first calls. You should report the theft (or missing dog) to the Police and Sheriff ASAP. I found there are a LOT of very nice people, in my community and across the nation, who continuously looked for my dogs

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who listened to my tale of woe, and who were as happy as I was when my kids were safely back home..  And for those special people who did extra things that I couldn’t do – web sites & posters, and pup sitting, and keeping my spirits and hopes up.. and allowing me to post flyers for weeks..  And especially Karin Goin and her dog, Cade, the local Sheriff, deputies, and the DA.

Sincerely,

Pat Pearce,      A happy but exhausted doggie mom.

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PS:  I showed Hunter in the long 4 day Memorial Day weekend shows.  This was his first time back in the show ring since he was returned. He gained more confidence each day and finally on Monday was Winner’s Dog and Best of Winners!  YEA!!  Bless his little valiant heart.

   
   
   

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