The Great Escape: How We Caught Sarah

Team Sarah.jpg

So how did we catch Sarah? It can’t be that hard, right? Just put up some signs. Watch her. Feed her. Grab a leash. Correct? Wrong. So just how did this whole shin dig go?

Sarah left her foster home Saturday morning for transport to Virginia. Sarah was tethered, and the next stop was the McDonald’s in Evergreen, Alabama. However during the drive she stepped on the seat belt clip which unhooked. So when the driver opened the door Sarah jumped out and ran. Sarah stuck around McDonald’s for a bit attempted to go up to some girls but decided to run. She had her martingale collar with an ID tag and a leash attached to it. She was officially in flight mode.

In the time Sarah was running and finding a place to feel safe, her foster mom Peggy hopped on the road and drove 2 hours to Evergreen. The transporter Nancy made contact with the local police and they were actively looking, patrolling, and alerting the public. Nancy continued to drive the area looking for any sightings of Sarah. That is what we needed, a starting point.

So Sarah is loose in Evergreen, Al. What that hell is there, there. Let me say, some awesome freaking people! Very helpful, kind, concerned people. But other than them it’s just one of those towns between two big cities that has a few restaurants and a couple of hotels. There was not even a place to print flyers. So what to do, who to call? Who can be there with feet on the ground? There were literally no contacts in the area. There were fosters within 3 hours though, who were willing to drive. So Jess and her family hit the road.

In the meantime Melissa started a flyer, Janis finished it. Sent it to an Office Depot in Montgomery along Jessica’s route to Evergreen. Jess arrived to OD and there color printer had just broken.... the lady at OD was the absolute best she tried so hard to get it working. When she couldn’t she called the nearest OD which was 12 miles in the opposite direction. When Jess arrived they had them waiting because the lady from the other OD called and told them how important this was. We grabbed what we needed. Sheet protectors, duck tape, and markers and hit the road again.

For the next hour from Montgomery to Evergreen Anita wrote reward on both sides of the flyer and Lexi put the flyer in a sheet protector. And Anderson slept.

Peggy (Sarah’s foster Mom) had arrived in Evergreen. Nancy had seen her once near a wooded area near a dialysis center. Peggy walked the area, hoping to see her. Absolutely nothing.
No sounds. No sightings. Was she still there? No one knew. So Peggy and Nancy drove around continue to look for any evidence of a loose dog running. Nancy’s Dad (85years old) spotted her! Near the road, near the dialysis center!!! Yes she was still in the same area!!! There was a water source!!! Sarah had found her a spot.

Jess, Anita, Lexi, and Anderson(the dog) arrive. Jess rolls out a simple short term plan. Anita and Lexi head out to put up signs and talk to local business. Nancy and her dad go searching for an Samsung Galaxy 8 cell phone charger (which in case you wanted to know are impossible to find). Jess gets Peggy set up on the tree line of the area Sarah was last seen, and Jess sets up two food sources. One very close to the water area and one near where she was last seen. Peggy sat in the woods for about an hour with nothing. Jess sat way back near the water source to see if she might be down that way. Again the question was, was she even still in the area. We didn’t know and there had been no sightings. So we stayed in this area. Anita and Lexi came back. Anita took over Jess’s spot and Jess and Lexi went the other direction putting up signs, knocking on people’s doors, making contact with the community.

In the meantime, many people from far away more people then I can list begin making the social media pleas. We needed people on the ground. We needed help. A Facebook page was made and shared about 200 times. Pms were going, people were being contacted. Just so much behind the scenes was going on. And it was so hard for all those people because they wanted to be on the ground but were in Fl, VA, NY and probabaly more places.

Jess and Lexi came back from hanging fliers and convinced Peggy to go charge her phone and get some food. Peggy was tired, emotional, and so worried she needed to go relax. We were afraid that if Sarah was near she was sensing Peggy’s stress.

In the meantime Anita and Jess switch back and forth sitting in the wood lines. The police came by every 20 minutes. Anita heard what she thought was tags but soon after that we got word there was a dog a half mile away in the intersection and cars were having to go around it. Anita, Jess, and Lexi loaded up and and drove there. There was a dog. It was not Sarah. She was a Red Heeler mix. At this point what do we do?

Yep you all know. Lu doesn’t leave a dogs behind. So she came back to the dialysis center with us. We named her Eve for being found in “Eve”rgreen.

At this point we were not sure if Sarah had been around or not. So Jess went to check the food. Nothing. But it was 38 degrees, so we decided to watch from the car. While sitting in the car talking to Lu coming up with a plan for the next day. She comes out. She lays down near the food bowl. She eats. She slept for about 20 minutes. And then she disappeared back into the woods. We had Peggy go back and sit for a bit. But let’s face it the ground was so cold and wet from the snow and ice in the previous days, if you sat you got wet. And then it was cold. So it was beyond hard to sit for long. There was no signs of Sarah for the remainder of the night. She had eaten (1/4 of a can of dog food) and disappeared. She has bedded down for the night.

It was time for us to get some sleep too. So we could be fresh in the morning. We left the last sighting location at 10:45pm to go to the hotel. Well the hotel allowed pets under 20lbs. Ummm we had Anderson at 65lb lab and Eve as 50lb heeler mix. They let us stay!!! No questions asked. Anita and Lexi went and grabbed some food. Jess mapped out a plan for the morning.

They got up at 330am and were out and back out on the ground at 4. Jess was on the ground from 4 until 6. Jess swore she kept hearing her but so saw nothing. Anita swapped with Jess, and again kept hearing something but never saw anything. At 7:15 with Anita still on the ground, Sarah was spotted she came from behind Anita and went towards the road. But she came right back down and back into the comfort of her woods a little ways up.

Jess decided to go down a ways from where Sarah was seen. Jess found a tree and made that her spot. We were trying to figure of which patch of woods Sarah was in. There were two sets (the road, grassy area, woods, grassy area, and woods) Sarah was active and boy she was getting close to Jess. The more Jess sung the closer she got. Sarah got within 5 feet but spooked when a car drove by. Back into the woods she went. At 8, it had warmed up a bit. So Jess helped Peggy set back up in the wood lines.

Jess, Anita, and Lexi went to the local AC so see about a trap. No traps 😞 but such a nice man! Who was so helpful. He scanned Eve for a microchip, no chip. And asked if we needed anything. He took all of our information and shared with a transport group. We went back to the hotel and got smoked sausage and sausage gravy for Sarah (it smelled so go) and checked out of our room. We took the food back out and set it up for Sarah. Peggy went to go get her breakfast and check out of her hotel room.

In the meantime a trap was on the way from Mobile!

Jess decided it was time to try Anderson. Jess and Anderson walked. Anderson got extremely whinny. So they sat. Anderson was on to something. Within 5 minutes, Sarah was there. She was pacing and watching. She was getting closer and closer. She wanted to come out. Jess was working on commands, playing, feeding, and loving on Anderson. The more she loved on him the closer she got. Sarah was within ten feet of Jess and Anderson. She would go and sleep about 25 feet away and then come back. Her leash was getting stuck which scared her a bit.

The trap had arrived and was up by the road. Local volunteers had arrived they were lining the wood line by the road that way she couldn’t cross there because we did not want her too. A local man was told what we were doing and we asked him to stay away. Well we were on the backside of his property so he decided to come see what we were doing. He came up behind Jess and Anderson. Jess spooked and it made Anderson spook which spooked Sarah and she took off running.

She ran the direction she had some from and then all of a sudden she came barreling back and went into the woods closes to the road where the other side was blocked by people. We went two hours with no sightings. No sounds. We honestly were scratching our heads did she get past us without us knowing.

Somehow Tony spotted her in the brush. She had not gotten past us. She has found a gully, curled up, and went to sleep. The area was wooded. And about 15 feet deep. We were able to surround her. She was dead asleep, Surrounded by the comfort of bushes, briars, and the ground. She felt somewhat safe.

We also knew this was our chance. Tony stood in front of her. While Anita army crawled slowly into the bushes. Sarah woke up, but did not move. She was shaking. Tony got low to the ground. He would get Sarah’s attention, and Anita would crawl. Anita would her attention and Tony would crawl. This went back and forth. The remainder of us surrounded the area in case she ran. Anita got close enough and slowly reached for the leash and grabbed it. Leash in hand Sarah was pulling tight and flipping. Anita said it was like a dog on a catch pole. Which is kinda what the martingale
Collar did. As Sarah pulled it tighten and Sarah could not slip lose. Tony moved closer. Sarah would not Allow them to touch her. So we passed food and water in to gain trust. Slowly gaining trust they were able to slip a slip lead around her neck. Tony would hand food to Anita. Anita would toss it to Sarah and slowly started offering the food from her hand. Soon Anita was petting Sarah. They were not able to stand so they coaxed her out with Tony in front with bacon strips, Sarah following while eating, and Anita behind with the leashes in hand.

They coaxed Sarah all the way back around where we had the trap. We decided to coax her into it. Just give everyone a chance to relax take a breath and to get Peggy to her girl.

We can not thank everyone enough who help.

Especially the ones on the ground in the Team Sarah picture. Search partners(left to right): Tony Nobles, ARR/South members Leigh, Todd, Kaylee, and Andrew Darby, Jessica Ely, Anderson(yellow lab), Peggy Robertson, Anita Ely, Susan and Tony Scott, and D Todd Grier. Not pictured is Lexi who is taking the picture.

The directors who were behind the scenes helping brainstorming ideas, keeping each other calm 😬 or at least trying.

The people in Evergreen and the omg the police officers who were so awesome.

All the shares we got, advice, offers to help. Each one of you were amazing!

We may have not done things by the books. But it was a successful rescue! And it took a village!!

Oooo and Eve! Eve stayed in Evergreen with ARR/south members who will be updating us along her journey!!!