Nearly three months after breaking out of a first storey apartment in Ottawa, a beloved emotional-support dog was recovered in Masham on July 2, thanks to a mysterious, anonymous tip and the quick thinking of La Pêche’s resident ‘dog-catcher’.
Ever since Rocky, a seven-year-old Amstaff Bull Terrier, escaped on April 14, his owner Taylor Golden has had a few dead-end suggestions in response to the hundreds of lost dog posters she had posted around her neighbourhood and online.
Understandably, she was skeptical when a man she didn’t know called on June 30 to tell her he knew where her dog was.
“It’s been a long few months,” Golden said about the more than 10 weeks since she had last seen the service dog that normally accompanies her everywhere to help her anxiety, including on bus rides to work and school. “I was freaking out.”
Golden said the tipster gave her a Masham address and said that her dog was being kept inside a home and that she should call the local animal control officer, Claude Lachaine, and the police.
When Golden contacted animal control, Lachaine had already received his own anonymous phone complaint about a dog barking excessively at the same location and that the caller alleged that the dog had either been “stolen or found.”
Lachaine is required to investigate when he receives a complaint about a possible bylaw infraction, however he did not have the authority to go to a residence and ask where they got the dog or much less ask if they stole or found it.
“I had to be very discrete, otherwise Rocky could have been moved from that location and we would have never found him,” Lachaine explained.
After asking the occupant of the home about the noise complaint and confirming the presence of a similar looking canine, Lachaine asked if the dog had a license.
“I then saw an opportunity to ask if I could take a photo of the dog for the licence application,” Lachaine said, explaining that he would usually require the owner to supply an image for the license records. “Since I got a tip that this dog possibly was lost or stolen, I sneaked in a couple of photos.”
Lachaine was then able to use those photos to compare to the lost dog poster and called Golden to tell her he had found Rocky.
After that, it was simply a matter of having the MRC des Collines Police take over and reunite Rocky and Golden.
Initially, Golden said Rocky was understandably confused when she saw him again in the parking lot of the police station in Wakefield, but once she pulled her mask down and he got a good sniff it was like they had never been apart.
Golden said the police didn’t tell her the identity of the person who was in possession of Rocky and that, since the dog had been “found” on the street, it didn’t qualify as a theft and they couldn’t press charges.
“Technically he ‘found’ Rocky, even though he kept him and didn’t get [his registration chip] scanned,” Golden explained. “Although it’s a bad thing to do, it’s not illegal, I guess.”
Golden also added that she believed Rocky hadn’t been getting enough exercise while he was gone, as he is now too chubby for his usual harness.
Regardless, Golden is just happy to have Rocky back home, now equipped with metal bars across her apartment windows to prevent him from getting out again.