A Vancouver woman will be reunited with her dog, missing for five weeks, Friday afternoon thanks to social media support and a pet detective.
Since early December, Jocelyn Aspa, 34, has been scouring the streets of Vancouver and posting on Facebook and Twitter in hopes of finding her beloved dog named Littlefoot.
Littlefoot, a 1.5-year-old mixed breed rescue dog from Thailand, went missing after her boyfriend took him for a walk on Dec. 2 near their home at Prince Edward and East 10th Avenue.
Her boyfriend, who has epilepsy, had a seizure, and Littlefoot took off running.
Over the next couple of days, Aspa took to social media with posters in a bid to find her dog. She found comfort from sympathetic Twitter users, and even had several witnesses spot the animal around Vancouver.
At one point, she found out a woman was feeding Littlefoot under her porch before she finally called animal control.
But it wasn’t enough to catch the young dog because he is fearful of people.
“It was a gut-wrenching experience. We didn’t know what else to do we needed help,” she said.
Aspa was anxious to find Littlefoot, whom she named after a character from her favourite movie, The Land Before Time. She said he had been making great progress becoming a bit more comfortable around people, after arriving from Thailand on Sept. 19 as a very timid animal.
She wanted to hire a pet detective but knew it would be really expensive so she started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money, not really expecting many donations.
However, animal lovers from near and far reached into their pockets and chipped in the cash to hire the detective.
As of Friday, she had raised $4,645 of a $4,500 goal on her Go Fund Me.
With the funds needed, they hired Al MacLellan, owner of Pet Searchers Canada, who came to their house and took the case.
“Oh my goodness they are amazing. They use safe traps and blood hounds to search for the scent and follow up on all the tips,” she said.
“It is expensive but absolutely worth it.”
She said the pet detective will cost around $4,000 and any extra money will go to veterinarian care for any health issues the dog may have picked up after wandering the streets for more than a month. She said she was grateful to all those who supported her, and pledged that any extra money would go to the SPCA or to the rescue facility that saved Littlefoot.
Pet Searchers found Littlefoot on Friday morning at a school in Richmond near Marine Drive and Cambie Street.
Aspa said it sounds like he is in good health but they want to make sure he isn’t sick with anything he may have picked up on the road so he is being taken to a veterinarian before he comes home to Vancouver.
“I don’t know how he got out to Richmond, he must have followed the bike path,” she said.
She was worried that if someone found Littlefoot they wouldn’t return him because he cowers around people, something she said can be mistaken as having been abused.
“He was a very shy dog when we got him and other people and noises would make him jump. He wouldn’t even be in the same room with the TV on. But just weeks before he took off he was doing really well and could even sit with us if we watched TV. We have been working so hard to get him to adjust and he was doing really well.”
MacLellan, who has been contacted but not yet returned the call, texted Aspa a photo on Friday morning to say her dog had been found safe.
“I am so overwhelmed and excited,” she said. “I’m nervous too. What if he doesn’t remember me?”
Aspa also said her boyfriend is doing well, adding that the last month has been a very stressful time.
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