In Kansas, one lost pregnant Labrador mix is now safe thanks to the help of social media, volunteers, and one woman’s keen eye.
Penny, a shy yellow Lab mix, went missing after bolting from her Humane Society foster parents on Monday morning, February 16. Her photo was shared hundreds of times on several social media sites, and almost 1,000 Facebook users “liked” the “Help Find Penny” Facebook page.
Penny was placed in the Humane Society’s foster program after she was removed from a “bad situation” in southeastern Kansas on Feb. 11, Lawrence Humane Society Executive Director Kate Meghji said.
The Humane Society’s foster program puts select pets in homes in lieu of the shelter while medical and social conditions are being addressed. In Penny’s case, she was “extremely unsocialized” at her first home and needed foster care, not only because of her pregnancy, but also so she could warm up to people, Meghji said.
Penny’s discomfort around people and the extremely cold temperatures this week made herrescue challenging.
“With fearful dogs, the best chance is setting a trap,” Meghji said. “We almost set a trap (Wednesday) night, but it was so cold that we worried that any time would be too much time trapped outside.”
Over her four-day disappearance, Penny was seen several times throughout downtown Lawrence.Six of these sightings were reported on the group’s Facebook page. Meghji said, “lots and lots” of calls were received by the Humane Society and animal control reporting sightings of the pooch after recognizing her from a picture online.
The Humane Society volunteers rushed to most sighting areas while community volunteers spent hours searching east Lawrence by foot. Meghji even spent her lunch breaks this week “driving around looking for dog footprints in the snow.”
The Labrador mix’s rescuer, Kansas Department of Agriculture inspector Carman Simon, drove in from her Coffey County home to aid in the search last Thursday, Meghji said. Animal activist and former state Rep. Ginger Barr came with Simon.
Simon had already been searching for about three hours when a woman reported that Penny was in her back yard near 11th and Oregon streets with her dogs. Simon, Barr and a few of Humane Society staff rushed to the scene.
Simon put on the coat and boots she had worn during Penny’s Feb. 11 rescue for scent recognition and approached the yard. It worked! It seems likePenny remembered Simon and immediately came to her, Barr said.
“Penny recognized Carman from her bad situation and went directly to her,” Barr said.
Meghji said that because Penny is usually fearful around humans, the reunion was magical.
“Everybody cried, and it was beautiful,” Meghji said. “It was the best happiness.”
Barr thanks the power of community and online communications.
“If people hadn’t been talking about it, (the woman who found Penny) may have just thought it was a stray dog,” Barr said. “Teamwork can be done, and it is very, very powerful.”
The Labrador is now recovering on a bed of blankets and pillows, away in a quiet area in the Humane Society’s medical unit. Penny will stay there at least until Monday, when the Humane Society will decide if Penny should go back to her foster home.
There are some people who have expressed their interest in adopting Penny’s puppies but they will have to wait since the puppies must stay with their mother for eight weeks before they can be placed for adoption.
They are not keeping a list of interested adopters, but “if and when they do become available,” Meghji said, the humane society will make an announcement.
“Since we know that Penny didn’t come from a great situation and likely didn’t have very good prenatal care, we won’t know until the puppies are born if they are healthy,” Meghji said. “We will keep everyone posted on their statuses, but for both Penny and her pups, it’s in their best interest to take it a day at a time. “