This is the story of a “Pie,” a sweet dog who got away from her owner while out walking one day on the Old Mission Peninsula. It’s also the story of how a community worked together to find Pie and get her back home, and how organizations like Cherryland Humane Society and Grand Traverse Animal Control work to not only find lost pets, but rescue them from neglectful situations and place them with caring “forever” homes.
About 20 years ago, I wrote a story for Ladies’ Home Journal about a California-based pet detective named Kat Albrecht. Kat runs the Missing Animal Response Network, and you can read more about her and the organization here.
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During the course of many interviews with Kat while I was writing the story, I learned all about what’s involved in searching for lost pets. That was my introduction to finding lost pets years ago, and over the past two weeks, I got to see some of those things in action.
Two Weeks on the Run
On Monday, Feb. 1, a sweet dog named Pie went missing on the Old Mission Peninsula near the corner of Kroupa Road and Arbor Trail. We reported on it here on Old Mission Gazette and helped get the word out to the OMP community to help out where they could.
For the past two weeks, Pie has been on the run and sighted at various locations throughout the OMP, most notably near Eimen Road, Blue Water Road, Center Road, Seven Hills Road and Devil’s Dive Road.
Because Pie is a rescue dog who came from a difficult situation before ending up with a caring human on the Old Mission Peninsula (read more about her history below), she’s very scared and skittish, making her rescue that much harder. Each time someone spotted her, she would automatically run away. Thus, we were all instructed not to chase after her, but to call either her owner or the Cherryland Humane Society if we spotted her.
Along with the bitter cold temperatures recently, Pie was also dragging a leash with her, so there was the very real possibility that she might get tangled up in something wherever she roamed.
The OMP Community Responds
The OMP community came together – as they always do – working towards Pie’s safe return home. Folks put out food, organized search parties, checked their outbuildings and decks, and reported various sightings throughout the past two weeks.
Last week, Tim and I were honored to be part of a small rescue team working behind the scenes to help get Pie back to her owner. We saw firsthand how a collaboration between Grand Traverse County’s Animal Control, Cherryland Humane Society, and a handful of OMPers worked together to narrow Pie’s traffic patterns to a small area that included the intersection of Center Road and Blue Water Road over to Devil’s Dive Road.
After a sighting one night at the end of last week, we searched a wide swath in this area and discovered fresh tracks, including a leash track. We knew it must be Pie and that she must be close by because it had been snowing heavily that day. Here are a few photos of the tracks we followed.
Pie Traps Were Set
Now we had a good indication of Pie’s patterns, so two traps were set – the first one off Devil’s Dive Road near the Recycling Station and the second one, the next night, near the intersection of Blue Water Road and Center Road. The traps included aromatic foods that Pie liked, as well as clothing with her owner’s scent to draw her in.
That first night, our small “Pie Team,” headed by Cherryland Humane Society’s Heidi Yates, took turns checking the Devil’s Dive trap to see if Pie was there, and also release any other animals who might have wandered into the trap.
Here’s a photo of the trap when Tim and I checked it early that night. No Pie, no animals, and no fresh tracks.
After the first night, the second trap was set. Cameras were also set up, and any movement near the traps would alert a phone app.
By Saturday, OMPers who had left food out for Pie were instructed to bring the food in, as the team wanted to ensure that Pie’s food searches were centered on the two traps.
“We Got Her!”
Thankfully, on the second night, Pie wandered into the second trap near the corner of Center Road and Blue Water Road, and shortly thereafter, I received a text from Heidi with an elated, “We got her!”
Pie was then delivered to her grateful and overjoyed human. Here’s a photo of Pie shortly after arriving in the trap near the corner of Center Road and Blue Water Road. She looks pretty happy, doesn’t she?
It’s a miracle that this short-haired dog survived nearly two weeks wandering around the Old Mission Peninsula in bitter cold AND dragging a leash. A big thank-you to everyone who searched for her, put out food, reported sightings and helped to get her home.
Pie’s owner, of course, is overjoyed that she’s finally back home, and thanked the Cherryland Humane Society, Animal Control, and all the OMPers who helped and offered support.
“Thank you, OMP community, for the outpouring of support, help, and dedication in getting Pie home,” she said. “So thankful to live in such a wonderful community.”
She added that Pie has settled in just fine, “pretty much acting like she hasn’t been gone for two weeks. It is so amazing to have my sweet girl home. I’m forever grateful.” Here’s Pie at home after her big adventure.
How You Can Help
Several OMPers and folks who’ve helped to get Pie home have said they will be giving a donation to the Cherryland Humane Society in Pie’s honor. If you feel called to do that, click here.
On an average day, it costs around $1200 to provide care for the many dogs and cats that end up at Cherryland Humane Society. Your dollars pay for food, medical attention and vaccinations – all the things needed to care for them until they can be united with their forever families.
Also, one of my “Pie Team” members noted that this is a good time to remind pet owners to keep pets inside during these frigid temps we’ve been seeing lately and/or provide warm shelter outside for them.
“A Large Neglect Hoarding Case”
Heidi told me a little about Pie’s horrific background, and it’s a good example of where your dollars go if you donate to Cherryland Humane Society (CHS), and the importance of their work, staff and volunteers. In Heidi’s words…
“CHS was asked by a neighboring animal control department if we could help with a large neglect hoarding case. We had room, so I said we could take two to three dogs. I sent one of my staff to go along with GTAC (Grand Traverse Animal Control) to bring back the dogs.
“When she got there, she immediately FaceTimed me, and I was horrified by what I saw. She said they were starving and there were way more dogs than they thought. We agreed to take the ones that were close to starving or worse off than the others. We made room and took nine. Because of the scale, other rescues from other counties pulled the remaining dogs.
“The owner’s mother, who lived in the house where they were, said they had not been fed in two weeks and could not have cared less about them. They were chained to disgusting wooded boxes, some crammed in chicken wire ‘kennels,’ all crying out for help.
“My staff worked around the clock to feed these poor babies four times a day so they could get used to food and slowly introduce food back to them. They had no idea what it was to be inside, let alone feel humane contact. Our wonderful volunteers sat in front of their kennels day after day for socialization.
“They are called the ‘Dessert Dogs’ (thus, that’s how ‘Pie’ got her name) because they were just pieces of a big breeding scheme to the owners, but when people stepped in to rescue them, they stopped being ingredients and became something more beautiful and loved like dessert. Also because they are all so very sweet.❤️”
Here’s a photo of the “Dessert Dogs” at Cherryland Humane Society after being rescued.
A big thank you to Heidi Yates and the staff and volunteers at Cherryland Humane Society who are devoted to nurturing dogs like Pie and her siblings back to health, and to finding loving “forever” homes for them.