Lost: December 8, 2013

Retrieved: February 6, 2014

Outcome: Returned to Rescue

Case Manager: Mary Stross Davis

On December 8, 2013, Samuel slipped his collar shortly after arriving at a local rescue’s foster home. Numerous volunteers from the rescue mounted an aggressive search for the young German Shepherd, putting countless flyers into the hands of residents and businesses in the area and placing signs at many intersections.

In late January, a Good Samaritan in the area noticed Samuel in his yard of his home. At first glance he thought Samuel was a coyote, but he quickly realized it was a German Shepherd. He and his wife recalled the signs they’d seen for Samuel, and they contacted his rescue. For two weeks, the homeowner left food every day in the same location in his backyard, and soon Samuel was making the trip to the feeding station a couple times a day, often around 3 p.m.

Habituating Samuel to the feeding station was key, because now we were able to deploy the Missy Trap where we expected he would be. We set up the trap on a Saturday morning. According to photos from the trail camera, Samuel visited the trap several times that day.

We decided to lock the gate open for the first day to allow Samuel to get used to the trap’s presence and be comfortable going inside. We learned from the trail cam that he went inside the trap each time he stopped by. The following day, February 6, we set the trap door to trigger using an electromagnetic release. Retrievers volunteer Greg James and Samuel’s foster observed from a vehicle parked 200 feet away, waiting for Samuel to make his appearance.

At 3 o’clock, right on schedule, Samuel walked out of the woods and slowly approached the trap. Enticed by the fresh food at the back of the trap, he walked fully inside. Greg cut the power to the electromagnet, triggering the gate to fall closed.

After 70 long days on his own in the harsh Minnesota winter—which had included stretches of subzero weather caused by a polar vortex—Samuel was finally captured and was returned to his foster home. He had lost 30 pounds but was otherwise in good health—a true testament to the resilience of these dogs when they are on their own.

As of this writing, Samuel is safe, warm and doing well in his foster home.