I have been obsessively following the search for Elsa – a black Lab-mix dog that went missing from her home in Swartz Creek. Her owners created a “Find Elsa” Facebook page, dedicated to bringing her home. On it, you will find videos featuring her tiny human siblings, pleading for her safe return. There are photos of this sweet pup, happily playing dress up, just being part of a family.
I admit, it takes me back to a night years ago. I got home from work and realized my back gate was wide open. When I walked into the house, only one of my dogs greeted me. Otis was gone! I ran out into the street and started screaming his name. Yes, I screamed.
A neighbor sprang out her front door, shouting to me that a neighbor farther down the street had found Otis, and that he was at Genesee County Animal Control. That neighbor, a single mother with children of her own to worry about, had seen that something was not right, and took just a couple of minutes to investigate.
It was dark outside; the Animal Control facility was closed, but that didn’t stop me. I hopped in my car, imagining every possible horrible scenario. What if someone stole him? What if someone is using him as a bait dog, right this moment, and I will never see him again? It had only been about four hours since a handyman left my house, accidentally leaving the gate open and my dogs in the yard, free to roam.
When I got to Animal Control, I saw a row of unlocked crates. I was shaking, and so was the crated area. There was Otis, jumping up and down, annoying the cats and dogs stuck in there with him. We went home, and I gave my handyman a few choice words.
Otis and I were lucky, but all you have to do is check your own Facebook newsfeed and you’ll see pictures of missing pets. I visit that “For the Love of Louie” page bi-weekly and look through all of the photos. There are plenty of “happy tails” updates about pets and families reunited. There are “forever in our hearts” posts, letting everyone know that a wayward pet is now at the “rainbow bridge.” Of course, the latter is not what anyone wants; but what breaks my heart the most are the “still missing” posts.
If you do an internet search, you will find a horrifying list of the possible fates of lost or stolen pets. In some cases, people really do steal pets and keep them, with not even a thought about the family they’ve left in a search-induced state of turmoil.
I thank God for my nosy neighbor, who took a minute to go all Gladys Kravitz and question why my back gate was open. There are times to be nosy, and this was one of them. That “something’s not right” feeling in your gut is very often right.
And, while those missing pet photos may interrupt the latest social media news about what your friends ate for lunch, they have real value. While Elsa has been missing for over three months (at this writing), the page dedicated to finding her has led many other pets and their families to “happy tail” endings. In less time than it takes to finish that “Find Out Which 90210 Character You Are” quiz, you could help reunite a family.