Last June Russ Menth and Jan Halter were moving from Minnesota to Texas when they lost their dog. Pony, a red pitbull terrier, had climbed out of a camper window and was lost when they stopped in the Kansas City area. They searched for their beloved pet, but finally had to continue on to Texas without him.
From their new home in Leonard, Texas ,Jan posted ads on Craigslist and other lost and found pet websites. They searched Kansas City area rescue and shelter pages hoping to see Pony listed and they called all of the shelters. As summer turned to fall, Jan and Russ began to lose hope. They wondered if they would ever see their beloved pet again.
But Jan and Russ weren’t they only people searching for their lost pet. Kansas City pet rescuers were looking, too. A group of Kansas City shelter and pet rescue volunteers had seen the posts and they were keeping an eye out for Pony. Each time they saw a photo of a red or brown pitbull, they scrutinized the image looking for Pony’s distinctive white marks.
These amazing animal lovers communicate with one another in Facebook groups. Always hoping to reunite lost pets with owners and find homes for homeless pets, they work together for the greater good. Many rescuers in the Kansas City area had heard about the lost pitbull. Pony’s story was particularly touching because he was lost while his family was relocating.
Many times a photo of a found dog appeared to be ,but on closer inspection the marlings did not match. A couple of times the dogs looked so much like Pony that it even took Jan and Russ a minute to realize it wasn’t him.
Then, on October 27, Independence Animal shelter workers posted a photo of a red pitbull on “Dogs of Independence” Facebook page. The listing read : “Animal ID 17554106 Species Dog, Breed Terrier, Pit Bull/Mix, Age 2 years, Sex Male, Date Found 10/26/2012, Size Medium, Color Tan, Collar 1 Black Nylon.”
That image bore a striking resemblence to Pony. Jennifer Oneil who volunteers with Unleashed pet rescue was one of the first to see the post. She immediately compared the photo of the Independence shelter dog with an image of Pony she had saved to her computer. The dog at the shelter looked just like Jan and Russ’s dog. She called them with the news. But Jan and Russ were skeptical.
The next morning Glenda Bailey, a shelter volunteer, took more pictures and emailed them to the couple. Jan and Russ could hardly belive their eyes. It was confirmed! Pony had been found.
Rescuers were elated when they heard. Their hours of perusing Craigslist ads and shelter sites had finally paid off.
The next day Russ left Leonard as soon as he got off work. He drove the eight and a half hours to Independence non-stop and was waiting at the shelter when staff arrived Thursday morning. A few pet rescuers and shelter workesr were there when Riss arrived.
It was a quiet reunion. Russ had driven all night to get there and Pony was stressed from his long ordeal, but it was clear that they were happy to see each other. Russ pulled Pony close and his dog greeted him with a wet sloppy kiss. As Russ paid the shelter’s claim fee and signed documents, Pony climbed up to the counter anxious to see what the hold-up was.
Once outside, Russ knelt down beside his dog and you could see the stress just melt away. Pony closed his eyes, lifted his head and smiled blissfully as Russ rubbed his chin. Russ smiled too. His best friend was finally coming home.
** Note: Pitbulls are banned in Independence, Missouri. Dogs residing in that city before the ban were “grandfathered in” and were protected as the ordinance took effect. The city’s website states: “Pit bulls are only allowed in the city limits if they were registered before August 28, 2006. No new pit bulls are allowed to register after this date.”
If Jennifer Oneill had not seen him on the shelters’s page when she did and his owners had not claimed him, Pony may have been destroyed.
To learn more about pitbulls and the discrimination that threatens them, please visit Animal Farm Foundation’s website at www.animalfarmfoundation.org