Following a two week search, the remains of a missing Philadelphia dog were found Saturday evening in the city’s Chestnut Hill section.
Shirley, a three-year-old Great Dane, had escaped her owner’s grasp following a car accident on August 29. The dog’s disappearance sparked an intense search spanning several neighborhoods throughout northwestern Philadelphia. Animal lovers from across the region converged upon Wissahickon Park en masse, distributing flyers and combing through the heavily wooded area looking for any sign of Shirley. A reward of $2500 for Shirley’s return was announced and publicized on numerous social media sites, including a popular Facebook page and WordPress blog. Sympathizers from various cities, states and countries shared Shirley’s story online in addition to their reaching out to the dog’s owners with prayers and suggestions.
As days turned into weeks, Shirley’s owners feared that their beloved companion would succumb to her untreated Addison’s disease. Without her medication, it was believed that Shirley would experience an adrenal crisis leading to death. Fortunately perhaps, it appears that Shirley never reached that advanced stage as her eventual demise came about quickly and absent any prolonged pain or suffering.
The following statement was posted on the “Help Find Shirley, the missing Great Dane in Philly” Facebook page on Saturday evening:
At 4:00 p.m. today we recovered Shirley’s remains on the Chestnut Hill West SEPTA line. At least one week ago, she died instantaneously after being struck by a train. We are eternally indebted to Eric, the fourth year UPenn Vet student, who heard from a neighbor that there was a deceased animal on the tracks. While many had looked the other way, he took it upon himself to investigate and found our Shirley so we could bring her home one last time. Alissa is currently looking for a freezer to store her remains, so she can skeletonize her (with the skills she’s learning in school) and donate her to veterinary medicine. We’ve been amazed and humbled by all the wonderful people of Philadelphia and the mid-Atlantic region who helped us through our search, and the many sympathizers who followed our story. We will be posting more tonight for all who care to follow. Thank you and God Bless. -Alissa and Mike
Upon hearing the news, hundreds of supporters immediately offered their condolences to Shirley’s grieving family. Although the majority of people reading the statement of Shirley’s passing had never had the opportunity to meet this wonderful animal, they were nevertheless touched by her spirit as well as the spirit of the community that had rallied around her.
The Philadelphia Animal Protection Examiner also issued a statement on Facebook advising this column’s readers of the heartbreaking turn of events. That post is shared below as a tribute to Shirley and also as a reminder of the good that this beautiful dog accomplished during her short time on this earth.
Our deepest condolences are extended to Alissa and Mike of Philadelphia, who have spent over 2 weeks searching for their lost dog Shirley only to receive tragic news earlier this evening. Please keep Shirley’s family in your prayers during this difficult time. Her story has touched so many and although this outcome was not what anyone wanted, the last few weeks have been a testament to the goodness that does exist in the hearts of people. New friendships were forged as members of the community joined together to search for Shirley. People from all over the globe reached out to Shirley’s family to offer their prayers and well wishes. Shirley may not have known it at the time, but she brought together many people who otherwise would have never met. R.I.P. Shirley, you will not be forgotten.
Anyone wishing to share their thoughts or prayers with Shirley’s owners may leave a message on their Facebook page. While the family can take comfort in knowing that one day they will meet their beloved pet at the rainbow bridge, their hearts will still ache for Shirley, a beacon of light that was extinguished far too soon.
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