‘It’s more than a lost pet, it’s a family member’: Rossland residents help find Molly the dog

‘It’s more than a lost pet, it’s a family member’: Rossland residents help find Molly the dog

Molly the dog didn’t find its way home; home found its way to Molly.

A little dog is safe at home after being missing for nearly three weeks — thanks to an astounding effort by residents of Rossland.

Molly the dog was found near Columbia Ave. on Tuesday, after disappearing from her home on October 9.

“It was because of the whole community that Molly was found,” says owner Joanne Cremer. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Molly is a six-year-old Lagotto-Romagnolo, and came from Qualicum Beach, where she had a couple of litters of pups. Cremer is a fan of the breed, but says Molly was also a favourite of the previous owner.

“She entrusted Molly to us,” says Cremer. “It took her a long time to decide she could let her go.”

But Molly did eventually come to live with her new family. On October 8 she arrived by air in a travel crate to Trail, and Joanne picked her up there.

And less than 16 hours later, she was gone.

The search begins

“I took her out for a little walk up the street, and a loose dog came running at her. She became very frightened, threw her collar and took off.”

That began a 20-day nightmare for Cremer and Aldo Sterpin, her spouse.

Their new lost dog, with no street sense, was wandering a town where wild predators are common in the bush.

“She did not know the area, she has no ‘street sense’, and she’s very new here,” says Cremer. “I was devastated.”

And so the hunt began.

“We went out every single day, morning, noon and night,” says Cremer. “I would go out in the morning for the first few weeks, I took the lining out of her crate and lay it out on the deck. And I’d sit and wait. And I’d go out to the end of the driveway and play recorded sounds of her puppies, hoping she could hear them.

“I was out every day until I was completely exhausted after two weeks,” she recalled.

Almost from the start, friends and acquaintances began calling Cremer, offering help. A neighbour, Lindy Welsby, spearheaded the effort to get the word out.

“Before I knew it I had the whole community here,” she says. Posts on local Facebook and Bhubble pages kept track of sightings of Molly.

Soon there were so many people out looking they began sorting volunteers into committees, sub-teams, and co-ordinating search efforts.

“One group would go in the morning, another in mid-day, another group would go at night,” says Cremer. “I had contacted every organization I could think of — the SPCA, Rossland Search and Rescue, animal places, everything. “

Some team members made up posters and handbills, and started distributing them around town. They started searching in people’s yards and in alleyways.

A separate message board was created so team members could co-ordinate and keep each other updated without constantly disturbing the exhausted Cremer.

The search crew expanded its area, going as far as Tadanac and and Oasis, closer to Trail than Rossland.

Lisa Wegner was one of the members of the search crews.

“It was incredible, some of us would have given up for the day, then we would get a note saying ‘she was spotted on Columbia’, and we’re on the conference group and everyone would drop everything and go up there,” she says.

But there was still no sign of Molly.

Searchers grew more inventive. A total stranger from Vernon lent a wildlife trail-cam to the effort and helped in a ground search. A drone went up looking for her.

Wegner contacted the breeder and got her to ship some of Molly’s shed fur, collected from the wash-bin at her old home, in an effort to bring a familiar scent to the area.

In the end that wasn’t needed. The day her hair arrived, someone spotted Molly in an alleyway near Columbia Avenue.

“I was preparing dinner when they called, and I had lamb chops,” says Cremer. “I just grabbed a raw lamb chop and thought, ‘if this doesn’t get her, nothing will.’.

Not very long later — dirty, disheveled and with her ribs stretched over her skin — Molly was back at her new home. She had lost nine pounds- a third of her body weight.

Cremer called the breeder to tell her the good news.

“She was so relieved,” says Cremer. “We both cried and cried. Now, we’ve been crying off and on for the last 20 days. But I tell you, she was so grateful — both of us were beginning to think she may not be found.”

For Wegner and the other search team members, the experience may turn into a more formal arrangement for finding lost pets.

“It’s more than a lost pet, it’s a family member, and it has to be treated in the same manner,” she says. “We don’t have a search and rescue for our animals, like we have for kids…

“It gives us something to look forward to in the future, perhaps having something like a committee that has the availability to line up drones or wildlife cams or live traps,” she says. “The organization and communication was so outrageously good that we were communicating throughout the day, saying where teams were going out, and by debriefing you could plan for the next day.

“It illuminated even more just how much Rossland gets involved,” she says. “Everyone was watching, everyone was involved in some degree, it’s so inspiring to see people weren’t giving up.”

Safe and sound

Things are winding down, but the calls still keep coming in from friends wanting to check on how Molly and family are doing.

Molly’s quite unaware of the fuss she’s caused. Still a little skittish — she really doesn’t know her new family yet — she’s slowly beginning to calm down.

“She needs time to adjust, to rest, and recuperate from her 20 days of not knowing where she was and being frightened,” says Cremer. She, too, is still recovering from the experience, but says it really brought out something special.

“We live in a fantastic community who are caring and will jump in to help not only animals, but anyone in the community who needs help,” says Cremer. “I have met so many wonderful people, who are now my friends, so a tragedy has turned into a positive.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Parts of Surrey, North Delta to get AstraZeneca vaccines for people ages 40+

A total of seven communities in Surrey and Delta will be targeted

The Braidwood Band performs for the seniors at Zion Park Manor in Surrey, as part of a music program planned by Rick’s Heart Foundation. (submitted photo)
VIDEO: Surrey charity brings distanced concerts to care homes, with prop pink firetruck

Familiar tunes performed for seniors during pandemic-era ‘Heart for Music’ program

A new median has been built at the 40 Avenue and Highway 15 intersection. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Median installed at South Surrey ‘death trap’ intersection

New infrastructure prevents motorists from crossing 176 Street at 40 Avenue

(Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: South Surrey Unitarians take call for racial justice to street

‘When we see it in our lives, we can either say something about it or be complicit in it’

Delta police were called to a possible stabbing in the 8100-block of Scott Road at around 6 p.m. on Sunday afternoon (April 18, 2021). (Shane MacKichan photo)
Two arrested after man stabbed in North Delta parking lot

The incident took place in the 8100-block of Scott Road at around 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, April 18

Pub patio in Victoria reopens with widely spaced tables, June 2020. Restaurants and pubs across are restricted to take-out and patio service only until May 25 at the earliest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

The Abbotsford Centre has the ability to host AHL level games if the Vancouver Canucks or any other NHL team chose to move its affiliate to the arena. (File photo)
Abbotsford Centre ready for AHL if right opportunity presents itself

Building recently upgraded glass and boards, schedule would allow for AHL tenant

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Vancouver Police Department. (Black Press Media files)
Abbotsford man named as victim of fatal weekend shooting in Vancouver

Harpreet Dhaliwal, 31, killed outside of Cardero’s restaurant in Coal Harbour

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Most Read