When most people hear the word “attack” in the same sentence as the word “pit bull” they assume the worse. While the story I’m about to tell is about a pit bull named Mack, the word “attack” in this story refers to the aggressive efforts of a Missing Pet Partnership volunteer who made it his personal mission to recover one lost dog. The recovery story of Mack highlights Missing Pet Partnership’s vision for community-based lost pet services–volunteers who do everything in their power, even when it takes weeks, to reunite a lost companion animal with their family. Here’s how it began:
On December 12, 2010, two male blue pit bulls who lived and played together escaped from their yard in Federal Way, Washington. Mack and Rocco were naughty dogs but as we all know, dogs escape from their homes on a daily basis. What made their case unique was that their owner, Nick, was overseas, serving in Iraq. The housemate who was watching the dogs made an effort to find the dogs but failed. Several weeks passed without either Mack or Rocco showing up at the local animal shelter and hope began to fade.
On January 10th, MPP volunteer Ryan Gamache found two stray brindle pit bulls. As in all cases when our volunteers find a stray dog, we all THINK LOST, NOT STRAY and therefore assume it is a lost (not stray) dog and attempt to find the owner. Ryan posted a Craig’s List Ad that read “Two Found Pit bulls: Call To ID.” This is how Nick’s family, who lived back east, first heard about Missing Pet Partnership. They called MPP to say their two blue pit bulls, Mack & Rocco, had been missing for nearly a month. They were crushed to hear that the two pit bulls that Ryan found were brindles (who were reunited with their owner). That meant Mack and Rocco were still missing.
But now Mack and Rocco were on Ryan’s radar. He communicated with Nick via e-mail and and realized just how much Nick loved his dogs and how worried and helpless he felt to be in the Middle East, fighting for our freedom while his two dogs were missing. Ryan made it his personal mission to find Mack and Rocco, no matter what it took.
Tragically, and without going into detail, Ryan discovered that Rocco had been killed and that Mack fled. But at least we had a sighting and an area to start searching so Ryan got to work. He posted giant, neon posters that read “LOST BLUE PITBULL BLUE COLLAR” along a major roadway in Federal Way near where Rocco was killed. Immediately, leads came in. Yes, a blue pit bull with a blue collar was seen just a few days ago in this neighborhood. Then another lead, he was seen over there.
The next day, January 17th, the hottest lead of all came in–a blue pit bull with a blue collar was coming around one man’s house. Ryan immediately responded and with the home owner’s permission, set out a plate of dog food and wildlife camera to see if we could capture pictures of the dog.
It was Mack! The next step was setting up the humane dog trap. So Ryan dragged the dog trap and set it up, along with the camera. A day passed. Nothing. A few more days passed. Still nothing. A full week passed by without Mack showing up on camera, let alone entering our dog trap. Ryan was discouraged, but not about to give up. On January 26th, Ryan and two MPP volunteers, Chris DeLaRosa and Dianna Stacy, went out and posted new LOST BLUE PITBULL BLUE COLLAR posters close to the last sighting. The next morning, leads began to flood in! At around 11:00 a.m. we received a fresh sighting–Mack was seen an hour earlier in the caller’s front yard.
Since the humane trap had failed and we had learned that Mack loved other dogs, I offered to use my magnet dog Kody and my stainless steel (65″) Snappy Snare (a technique we’ve pioneered at Missing Pet Partnership and use to capture hard-to-catch-dogs) to capture Mack. Now that we had a fresh sighting of Mack, I called Ryan, grabbed Kody and my Snappy Snare, and headed to the sighting.
Ryan and I spent over an hour looking for Mack but we didn’t find him. As luck would have it, as soon as I left and arrived home I received a phone call. A woman named Karen saw our neon sign and called MPP to say she was a passenger in a car that WAS FOLLOWING MACK AT THAT MOMENT! I kept her on the line which enabled me to call Ryan on my cell phone and direct him where to go until he found Karen’s car and Mack.
Ryan had a catch pole and treats and tried to entice Mack, but Mack wouldn’t have any of it. I lived about 5 minutes away. By the time I arrived and pulled around the corner I could see Ryan, a 1/2 block away and Mack, who was standing in the middle of the street about 5 houses down from me. I knew I would have just enough time to open my car door, walk to the back of my SUV, open the hatchback, grab my Snappy Snare, let Kody out of her crate (her long leash was attached to her harness), and Mack would be right there.
And that’s exactly what happened! Right as Kody hit the ground and I walked her from behind my SUV, Mack was a few yards away. But he immediately began to wag his tail and walked right up to sniff noses with a tail-wiggling-Kody. My Snappy Snare was positioned over Kody’s nose so that when they sniffed noses, I could move it over Mack’s head, release the ring, and catch Mack. It was a textbook capture and we had Mack!
My biggest disappointment was that we did not get film footage of this capture. However, if you’d like to see video footage of another case where I used magnet dog Kody and my Snappy Snare to capture a another skittish pit bull on a different MPP recovery case, watch this video here:
Mack was on the run for a total of 45 days. Ryan took him to the vet plus fostered him until Nick came home a week later. While I missed the live reunion between Nick and Mack, I stopped by a few hours later.
Ryan has his own pit bull named Karma (she’s one of our wiggly cat detection dogs) who had fallen in love with Mack. I enjoyed watching Nick and Ryan and their dogs interact. I snapped a picture as Nick massaged Mack’s ear as he told us about how he’d wished we could have met Rocco.
The night ended with my taking a portrait of Nick and Ryan, two new friends posing with the dogs they loved. The best news is that Nick came back to the states because he and Mack are moving into a new place (with a secure yard) in California. Like so many families who MPP has helped recover a beloved lost pet, Nick was grateful to Ryan and to Missing Pet Partnership. And Ryan was rewarded with what keeps our volunteers at MPP passionate about the volunteer work that we do–the joy of making a difference.
MPP is using a new tagline…Missing Pet Partnership: Finding Lost Pets ~ Saving People!