Four Police Officers and Network Rail
A large search area for one small dog
It is every pet parents worse nightmare and this week it happened to one of my clients. Their beloved dog, Nellie, went missing at 4:45 pm from their parents home in Liss, Hampshire and they couldn't find her! They have kindly given me permission to use thier story to highlight what to do should this nightmare become yours.
Lost from home
As an ex-Dog Warden, I can confirm that most dogs are not lost out on walks as you would have imagined, but from their own homes. This is why I urge pet parents to keep their dogs collars and identity tags on them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But I digress, this week I received a text from Nellie's owners, Sarah and Richard, saying she had gone missing from Richards parents home in Liss, Hampshire, which was some 10 miles from their own home. She escaped from their care at 4:45 pm and had not been seen since. Unfortunately I did not receive the text until the following morning at 6:30 am but as soon as I did I contacted Sarah. Here's what happened.....
Dogs Are Creatures of Habit.
Nellie's own home is located in a small, quiet, cul-de-sac so when Sarah and Richard leave their home for Nellie's walk they turn right which leads onto a large green and beyond. Dogs are creatures of habit so I knew she would have turned right as she left Richards parents drive way, which is located on a busy road that lead towards a railway crossing and the even busier A3. Add to the mix that it is January and dark by 5pm and the situation became an emergency very quickly!
The Power of FaceBook
The family were out searching for their beloved dog immediately but it soon became clear they needed extra help. Sarah had rung all of the local Vets incase Nellie had been picked up and left with them and had contacted her sister and friends on FaceBook. Very quickly Nellie's plight was shared nearly 1000 times! From there someone contacted the Denmead Drone Search and Rescue Team who descended upon Liss with 3 search dogs and began to co-ordinate a search.
Dog Lost also picked up the details on FaceBook and also contacted Sarah and told her she had shared Nellies details and volunteers were also on their way to help with the search.
At 5:20 pm a lady travelling in her car had spotted Nellie run onto the railway line from the level crossing. She stopped and tried to call the little dog to her but she was gone (that lady remained searching for Nellie until 12:30 that night!)
Network Rail was contacted who got all of the trains travelling through Liss to "go slow" and Network Rail officers and 4 Policemen obtained clearance to walk the track from Liss to Andlers Ash railway crossing where Nellie went missing. They were also in contact with the train drivers who reported if they had or had not seen her.
The night rolled on and there were no further sightings of Nellie. It was dark and cold but Sarah, Richard and their children could not believe how many volunteers continued to search the dark, unlit roads and lanes in the area, including neighbouring gardens and out buildings.
By 4 am everyone decided to return to their homes for some rest and a change of clothes; many volunteers to get ready to go to their day jobs despite being out all night searching for little Nellie.
And then, Sarah and Richard received the news they had been longing for; Nellie had returned to Richards parents home and was scratching at their door to come in! It was 5 am and she had been missing 12 hours. She was tired, cold and hungry but completely ok with no injuries at all. Such a joyful relief.
So by the time I received Sarahs text message to say Nellie was missing, she had thankfully been found and was home where she belonged.
A Huge Thankyou
Sarah, Richard and thier children would like to thank everyone from the bottom of their hearts who came out to help them in their search. They could not believe how generous everyone was with their time and support looking for a dog they did not know, for a family they did not know. But to me it just affirms a belief I have always held and that dog people are the best! We do not need to know each other personally but we are all united in the love we have for our dogs and will always step up and help any other dog parent when in need - priceless!
So what did Sarah and Richard do right in their efforts to find Nellie? Well, as harrowing as it was, they did everything right. They searched for her straight away; they called in extra help via FaceBook; they contacted local vets; Network Rail and local Police helped to search areas which were off-limits (a live railway line!) and they had someone at home where she had gone missing from. Now that was very important - as a Dog Warden I occasionally had to track and catch dogs which had been dumped by their irresponsible owners or help find lost dogs. Most professionals in this area will confirm that a dumped or lost dog will turn up, if they can, at the location they last saw their owners, or in this case, Richards parents home, 12 or 24 hours after they last saw them. In this case Nellie escaped from her carers at 4:45 pm and returned to them some 12 hours later at 5 am.
We hope this experience is NEVER experienced by you but if it ever does remember this post; act quickly, always make sure your dog is wearing its collar and ID tag, keep your dogs microchip details up to date and call in extra help.
Miss Nellie is completely ok and really not sure what all of the fuss is about! For Richard and Sarah however, the night of Monday 11th Janaury 2021 will remain in their hearts forever.
Thank you to everyone who turned out to look for Nellie; you are the best -x-