After just over two weeks of searching, a West Shore dog owner was reunited with her missing dog thanks to the help of community members and volunteers.
Isla, a small Papillon and Shih Tzu cross went missing on March 10. Her owner – who had just moved to the area from Port Alberni – was at work when her landlord let Isla into the yard. The small dog managed to crawl under a portion of the fence that was slightly raised and took off, according to Barb Mah, one of the administrators for ROAM, a charity that reunites owners with lost pets.
Mah said Isla was spotted running down Jacklin Road and crossing Sooke Road. She was next seen on a camera on Triangle Mountain all in day one.
Over the next few days, more sightings placed Isla in various locations on the West Shore. People who saw her reported that she would dash away as soon as she was spotted, Mah said.
After that, nine days went by without any sightings of Isla. Mah said her owner was becoming more worried about what could have happened.
“Our team feared cars – as we do for every single lost dog – and in the case of such a small dog, we feared predators such as owls, eagles and even raccoon if cornered,” Mah said.
On the 21st, ROAM held a poster event that saw 20 volunteers put posters up in their neighbourhoods all while social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, on March 24 at about 9:30 p.m., Mah said she received a call from a man who lives on Triangle Mountain in Colwood. He said a dog with a similar description to Isla ran by his gazebo when he was outside.
Mah said she and her husband, Terry, went to the property to set up cameras but there were no sightings that night. Mah then returned with her husband to set a trap and cooked bacon, to which they added water, roast chicken, roast beef and smoked salmon. They then pulled out the meat and used the broth as a liquid bait trail leading to the trap. The meat was used as a meat bait trail as well.
Inside the trap was Isla’s owner’s jacket and a blanket.
“At 3:20 a.m. we got a phone ping from the cameras so we started watching,” Mah said. “At first it was just a white blob in front of the camera, the blob backed up and we saw some unmistakable black ears and a poofy tail. It was Isla,” Mah said.
Isla found every last bit of bait that was laid down for her and walked nonchalantly into the trap as the door closed behind her. She ate what was left in the trap, fluffed the blanket and went to sleep. Mah’s husband Terry then called Isla’s owner to let her know the good news.
“She answered as if she was going to get bad news and Terry said ‘how would you like to come pick up your baby?’ and she just screamed ‘no way,’” Mah said.
There was a vulnerability to this owner, Mah said, which makes this phone call unforgettable. She said the fact that the owner had just moved here with no family or friends and just lost her dog made the case especially sad at first.
“In these uncertain and crazy days we are experiencing as a country and as the world, it is nice to know that there are a few truly good stories out there that are sure to bring a smile to our faces,” Mah said.
Coincidentally, the day Isla was found also happened to be ROAM’s fourth anniversary.