Tofino's no-stone-left-unturned approach to finding a tourist's lost pet reached an improbably happy conclusion Thursday morning when, after over a month of thorough and collaborative searching, Jitterbug was found.
The Shizu-Poodle cross went missing on Oct 15 but is now making his way to the Okanagan to be reunited with his ecstatic guardians.
“This is a visitor to our fine coast and community and we take the safety and well being of all our locals and guests seriously, four legged or two legged,” Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network co-founder James Rodgers told the Westerly News Thursday afternoon.
“A lot of care and effort went into finding him and we're really pleased and really proud of our community...The amount of effort that folks put in is really staggering.”
The saga's triumphant ending comes after an exhaustive local effort to find the seven-year-old animal.
Rodgers said a search party was put together immediately after the news broke that Jitterbug was lost as local dog owners adjusted their daily walking routes to the sites Jitterbug was believed to be hanging around and volunteers collaborated over social media to check which areas had been checked each day.
“Feeding stations were set up in all different areas [and] the mudflats were getting regularly patrolled,” he said. “I'm thrilled with how we come together as a community in these times of need.”
He said as the days turned into weeks, it became harder to hold out hope for Jitterbug.
“After that amount of time, people were getting a little worried that the wolves or cougars might have gotten to him,” Rodgers said.
He said several Jitterbug sightings near Sharp Road sparked CARE's volunteers into action and, ultimately, led to the successful rescue.
“Our team jumped into emergency response mode, which we're very good at these days, and got a feeding station set up with a trail camera—one of our newest acquisitions that we're just absolutely thrilled with—and got a shot of Jitterbug,” he said.
“The camera was able to verify that it was him and, from there, it was just a question of getting the trap set. We've got some incredible volunteers with great skills on that end.”
He said the trap CARE used is a large wire crate with a door that shuts when a plate inside is stepped on. Jitterbug was found in the crate at 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
“A couple of volunteers were out very early and managed to catch him,” Rodgers said. “He is a skittish guy, which made it that much more difficult this whole time to get close to him.”
Rodgers said the month spent in the wild had taken a visible toll on Jitterbug but CARE volunteers acted quickly to bring the dog's spirits and health back up.
“He was skinny and weathered,” Rodgers said. “He's gone for some nice walks and had lots of cuddles, I'm sure that hasn't stopped, and he's being whisked as fast as possible to be reunited with his family.”
Along with coordinating emergency responses to find lost pets, CARE is a busy volunteer organization that arranges transportation for injured animals to out-of-town medical attention and holds spay and neuter clinics throughout the West Coast's communities.
“Without our volunteers, we'd be lost,” Rodgers said. “It's an incredible team doing a lot of stuff.”
Anyone interested in supporting CARE's cause is encouraged to 'Like' the group's Facebook page—CARE Network (Coastal Animal Rescue & Education Network)—or check out its website at www.coastalanimalrescue.ca.
“I really encourage people to support their local animal rescue by making a donation and 'Liking' our page,” Rodgers said adding the organization is currently holding a promotion for donors.
“For every person that donates $100, theres a very fun, limited edition, enamel tin mug, which is about raining cats and dogs.”