A dog has been safely returned to her owners after a rescue mission rallied the whole of the St Albans community and beyond to bring her home.
Winnie the Cavapoo went missing on Monday, September 28, after bolting from her first day at doggy day care and was lost for six days before she was found near the Ventura Park industrial estate.
This sparked a united community response both online via a Facebook group, which now has over 2,000 members and, on the streets, supported by sniffer dogs and infrared technology.
Frances Haycock, who owns Winnie with her partner Adam Wheeler, said they wanted to encourage her to socialise after lockdown so enrolled her into doggy day care.
She said: “We had her throughout lockdown so she has not been very well socialised so we wanted somewhere where she could mix with other dogs.”
However, Frances said she received a call from the centre at about 1pm the same day to notify her that Winnie had run off and immediately she rushed over to begin the search.
Together with her partner they searched the surrounding area from 6am to 10pm every day along with 30-40 volunteers.
On Wednesday, Rosie and Sue Sutcliffe, of Paw Behaviour Dog Training, kindly volunteered their team of trained search dogs which were crucial in finding Winnie.
There was a glimmer of hope on Friday, after hearing about a potential sighting which led to a Dog Lost volunteer generously carrying out a stake out with infrared technology in the torrential rain overnight.
However, after an unsuccessful stake out, Frances said that on the sixth day it seemed like all hope was lost before hearing about multiple sightings in the Ventura industrial area.
She said: “Just as Adam was about to give up something caught his eye and he found her.
“The second Winnie heard my voice she knew it was me and she just ran towards me. It was that thing of she just wanted to be near us.
“It was a huge relief. I had really reached that point where I thought we were not going to find her again.”
Frances said she wanted to thank the community who went above and beyond, with one resident even offering to lend them their helicopter to look for Winnie.
She said: “We have been completely blown away with how supportive and generous people have been with their time and resources.
“One of our Facebook posts has reached 200,000 people which is more than the entire district of St Albans.
“We are living in such a bleak time full of so much sadness and misery and to have people making the most incredible gesture is just so lovely.”
Winnie is now resting back at home, after being checked out by a vet, who found a few thistles is her fur.
The Facebook group which helped find Winnie will stay active to help other lost dogs find their way home.
Picture credit: Sue Sutcliffe