Whenever your dog has a nightmare, it’s probably about getting lost forever (or, like, you not immediately giving her a slice of pizza). And if you’ve ever searched for your lost dog in real life, you know the agony. But one woman’s 17-month search is giving us all reason to stay hopeful. (Grab the Kleenex. You’ve been warned.)
When Karen Kissner’s toy poodle Zoey escaped from their yard in August 2018, Kissner and her family and friends sprang into action, handing out 2,000 flyers and posting them in the local gas stations and all vet offices, groomers, and humane societies. When those disappeared, she added flyers to electrical posts. She posted on Nextdoor and in all the lost dog groups on Facebook. She also called the lost-dog group The Retrievers for help.
On Aug. 13, 2018, Zoey was spotted running along I-35, and was picked up by a man in a truck, who Kissner suspects was a breeder. Sounds like a nice guy.
Kissner and The Retrievers continued to follow up on sightings and share Zoey’s picture. Zoey wasn’t microchipped, which added to the challenge. But Kissner never lost hope. “Zoey was born in my hands. I felt deep in my heart she was out there and it was my job to find her as her mom,” she says. And you don’t question a mother’s intuition–it’s simple biology, folks.
On Jan. 22, 2020, Kissner got a call from The Retrievers. Good Samaritans Sam Carlson and Beth Nelson had found a toy poodle in Hinckley and brought it to the Animal Humane Society (AHS) in Woodbury. An AHS staffer thought the toy poodle looked similar to a pup The Retrievers had shared on their Facebook page. It was Zoey, matted and emaciated, but unmistakable. Zoey and Kissner were reunited the next day.
“They handed her to me and she melted into my neck,” Kissner says.
Zoey had withered to just 3 lbs., and some physical changes suggest someone tried to breed her using artificial insemination (um, rude). Someone had also implanted a microchip in her but had never registered it. AHS staff identified the chip as one purchased 22 years ago in bulk–a common buying practice among breeders.
Today, Zoey’s on the mend with good food and supplements for stress relief and healthy skin and coat. She’s gained two pounds, loves her new bed, is starting to play again, and doesn’t let Mom out of her sight.
Kissner’s best tips for searching:
- When calling for your pet, use a calm voice and do not call them by name as it can make them think they’re in trouble. Instead, call them a pet name like baby, sweetie, or honey.
- If you’re in Minnesota, call The Retrievers: “They have members in different humane societies and will watch for your pet. If there is a sighting, they will go with you to help in case the pet has to be trapped. Some are so scared that trapping is the only way to get them and calm them down.”
- Remember that time is of the essence. Many shelters will only hold lost pets for a few days before adopting them out to another family. Get your family and friends involved.
“I am very sad about what has happened to Zoey and hope she can forget the evil people who had her,” Kissner says. “But we are at peace; we have each other again.”
Want another happy ending? A second Minnesota woman was reunited with her dog, Hazel, after three years when she spotted Hazel up for adoption in a Florida beer can campaign.
Got a grrreat searching tip? Woof at us in the comments.
(Top photo courtesy of Karen Kissner)
More reads you’ll ruv: