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Jamestown community helps reunite missing dog with owner

pet owners should always have identification - a pet’s name and contact information - on the pet’s collar especially if the pet is left with someone else in an unfamiliar area, said Rebekah Johnson, animal control officer with the Jamestown Police Department.

It took a community effort to help reunite a Jamestown woman with her dog that was missing for 10 days.

Virginia Schafer’s dog, Trudy, a 2-year-old Maltese poodle mix, went missing on Friday, Nov. 5, when someone went to her home in the Gardenettes to let her two dogs outside while she was working.

“I forgot to tell him that the storm door doesn’t close all the way, so that was left open when he got the dogs out of the bedroom” Schafer said. “She took one look at him and just bolted out the door.”

Schafer said she called animal control to see if Trudy could be tracked down. During the call, she was told that there was a dog that matched the description of Trudy that was hit by a vehicle near Dr. Dawn’s Pet Stop, which is located at 1202 12th Ave. SE.

Schafer was advised to post information about her dog missing on Facebook. There are two lost-and-found pages for missing pets for the Jamestown community on Facebook.

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“People in Jamestown know that I help with these and then they start tagging me on Facebook and sending me messages,” said RaeAnn Kracht, an administrator for the Jamestown, ND Lost & Found Pets Facebook page.

Kracht said she contacted Schafer to get information about her missing dog and her behaviors before Trudy went into flight mode. Flight mode is a term used to describe when a missing pet begins to use its natural instincts and its behavior changes toward humans because it is instinctively fearful.

She said information about Trudy was posted on the Jamestown, ND lost and found pets and Jamestown, ND Lost & Found Pets Facebook pages as well as the Community of Jamestown Supporting Our Local Community page to get help with spotting the dog.

The search

Schafer said she searched for Trudy along both sides of Business Loop East from the area near Casey’s General Store up to the S&R Truck Plaza from about 5 p.m. to midnight on Nov. 5.

“At midnight, when I stopped looking I was so discouraged,” she said. “She couldn’t have gone too far and she didn’t come to my voice, so I had a lot of negative thoughts.”

She said three different people reported seeing Trudy on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 6.

She said people had reported that Trudy had a noticeable limp the first two days she was missing from being hit by a vehicle near Dr. Dawn’s Pet Stop. But, Trudy was not limping anymore by the third day.

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Schafer stayed in a tent in southeast Jamestown near the Prairie Veterinary Hospital building, Kracht said.

“We were setting up feeding stations and places to put traps to monitor in case she got in there, said Rebekah Johnson, animal control officer with the Jamestown Police Department. “With the weather conditions, it was necessary to check traps every one hour or two hours. So a group of us saw that together and would do the rounds as we called them and check the traps and the bait to see if there were any spottings of her.”

Traps were set, and volunteers checked the traps.

“We tried to check them through the night,” Johnson said.

Trudy was in the area around WedgCor Steel Buildings and the S&R Truck Plaza, she said.

“Then there was a group of people who had attempted to catch it then it ended up running out east of the baler along the railroad tracks out past there,” Johnson said. “So that was pretty much the area that the dog tended to stay in and we were able to then set up people driving and checking the traps.”

Schafer said people reported seeing Trudy by Hardee’s and Domino’s Pizza.

“I believe she was looking for her first owner,” she said.

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Schafer adopted Trudy about three months before she went missing after her owner had passed away.

Schafer said she set up a tent in southeast Jamestown on Nov. 6.

“I called the police station and called to see if I was in trouble if I stayed on the property and put a tent up,” she said. “They checked and said that I would be fine.”

She said she eventually had to leave on Sunday, Nov. 7, because the property owner called the Jamestown Police Department.

“Ten minutes before that was the first time I got to see Trudy,” she said. “She was across the street coming back over across the street. Trudy was right at my tent. I had left the door open so if she did come around she could go inside.”

Schafer said she got low, laid down and did not say anything.

“She just sat there staring at me, and as soon as I picked my head up and said, ‘Trudy,’ she bolted,” she said.

Schafer said Trudy’s original name was Winnie but she also owns another dog named Winston, which her niece calls Winnie. To avoid confusing Winston, she decided to change her newly-acquired dog to Trudy.

“This whole ordeal, when we said, ‘Trudy,’ she ran even harder,” she said. “That old name maybe would have jogged her memory better.”

Schafer said a friend was staying at her house when she was not there to make sure Trudy could get back inside the house if she came back.

“She did come back. She came back a couple times,” she said. “Every time she said her name she would hop or jump real quick and stare her down for a bit then she would bolt.”

Collin Johnson eventually trapped Trudy on Monday, Nov. 15, Kracht said. She said she could not believe Trudy was trapped because she just checked all the traps that were set up

“He had set a trap probably not far from where one of our traps were,” she said. “He caught her in that area, the same area where we had been looking for her in. It just happened to be he caught her in that one.”

Schafer said Trudy looked sad and scared when the dog was returned to her.

“When she saw me, you knew she was happy to see me,” she said.

Schafer was thankful about the help and support she received from people in the community.

“I am just in awe of them,” she said. “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for these people now. I consider them friends for life. I don’t know if I would have made it through the whole ordeal without them.”

Trudy was taken to Dr. Dawn's Pet Stop for a checkup, and no injuries were found, she said.

Kracht said someone stole a trap that was borrowed from the James River Humane Society and would like to see it returned.

Tips when a pet goes missing

Rebekah Johnson emphasized the importance of reporting a missing pet to law enforcement agencies because they need information about the pet and the owner.

“It is the only way we have information to contact people if they report it,” she said. “I’m a one-man department. I don’t always monitor Facebook. I don’t always know what is going on on Facebook. We depend on the computer reports at dispatch (Stutsman County Communications Center) to follow up with that.”

She said rural residents should report their pets missing as well.

“You never know where they might turn up or what connections I might hear of to get that animal returned,” she said. “Make a missing report even if you live out in the county, so that gets documented and we have that information.”

Johnson said not to chase the pet or yell and scream at it if the missing animal is spotted.

“Let the dog recognize the situation and approach you until the owner or a familiar person can be contacted if the dog is being hard to catch,” she said.

Once a pet is lost, Johnson said it is best to keep it in the same area. If the pet is missing for a longer period of time, feeding and trapping stations will be set up to try to catch the animal.

“Remember that it may take up to a week for a dog to become accustomed to needing people again and to get out of that flight mode, so give it time,” she said.

She said pet owners should always have identification - a pet’s name and contact information - on the pet’s collar especially if the pet is left with someone else in an unfamiliar area. She said recent photos of the pet should be available so a post can be made on social media sites such as Facebook. She said the post on Facebook should include where the pet was lost so she knows the location to search for it, pet names and behavioral habits of the animal.

She said microchipping a pet is always recommended because a microchip cannot get lost like a collar.
“Most places, impounds and places like that, scan the animal for chips on a routine basis,” she said.

Johnson said community Facebook pages are beneficial because they get the word out about missing pets to anyone involved in searching for it.

“Your rescue groups, your rescue people, they are able to share it with all of their connections into the animal rescues,” she said. “So you have a lot of eyes out there when it gets out there and you can share it on social media. It gets out to a lot of people very quickly.”

Kracht said those Facebook pages help bring the community together.

“It is very important,” she said, referring to the importance of Facebook pages to inform people about what is happening. “They have been used for several things. I think it is a good thing.”

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