- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) - When Roxy bolted into the night on New Year’s Eve, her family panicked.

When she stayed missing for nearly two weeks with freezing rain and sub-zero temperatures, they started to believe they might never see her again.

But after 12 days of searching tirelessly, posting fliers and canvassing the city, Roxy was spotted; and it was other Greenville residents on Facebook who helped track her down.

A neighbor scared the four-year-old black lab on her way out of the apartment with owner Amanda Matis. Even though Roxy was on a leash, Matis said the dog was so startled she pulled the leash from her hand and ran.

Five black labs and other pets went missing that night, so sightings were not reliable - it might not be Roxy, her family thought. And since Roxy is a shy, skittish dog who does not approach strangers, finding out if it really was her was even more challenging.

But the sightings were enough to give her family hope. And one lead finally brought the family back together.

Matis mother, Liz Miesnik, said the family posted information about Roxy on Facebook and started looking for other avenues to pursue to find her.

The posts were added to large Facebook groups specifically to help find lost pets and to others.

“I was inundated with people willing to help with the search and rescue of her dog,” Miesnik said. “It was comforting to see how much the staff and volunteers at the Humane Society and Pitt County Animal Shelter helped in sharing and posting for this dog.

“Strangers would contact my daughter offering their help and advice to help in her search,” Miesnik said.

Mathew Kern, Roxy’s other owner, said he has had Roxy since she was a puppy and was devastated when she ran away.

“I just heard Amanda scream and I thought Roxy got run over by a car,” Kern said. “We immediately started looking. I spent about eight hours a day driving around aimlessly with a squeaky toy out the window. People probably thought I was crazy.”

While printing flyers, Kern said the woman at the copy shop recognized Roxy from the Facebook posts.

“It was just so weird that a stranger knew about her,” he said.

“I think the last time I looked one of the Facebook posts had like 300 shares,” Amanda said. “That’s 300 people - mostly strangers - who wanted to help us get her back. It was amazing.”

Matis and Kearn said their older chocolate lab, Tucker, immediately knew Roxy was missing.

“He wouldn’t even lift his head sometimes,” Matis said. “He knew something was wrong.”

And Matis’ daughter, Amelia, also noticed Roxy’s absence.

“She walked around saying ‘Oh no, Roxy!’ over and over,” Matis said.

As time went on, the family got more and more tips from people on social media who had seen a black dog in the Fire Tower Road and Arlington Boulevard area.

After a tip, Kearn headed out to investigate and sure enough, it was Roxy.

“She wouldn’t even come to me, though,” Kearn said. “I was there for a while before she came to me, and only after I started baby talking her in the way I wouldn’t want anyone else to hear. She was muddy and I got muddy but I was so happy to see her.”

A video posted to Facebook soon after Roxy was brought home show a thrilled Tucker and Amelia greeting Roxy. Dozens of comments follow the video congratulating the family on finding her.

Roxy spent 12 days away from home without food, in the rain and in temperatures that dipped below zero some nights. But she came home not too worse for wear, Kearn said.

“She was covered in ticks,” Kearn said. “But we took her to the vet and no lime disease, no rabies. She’s fine, even though she lost some weight. Her paw pads were cut up but she’s much better off than we thought she would be.”

Kearn said the family is getting a GPS microchip imbedded in Roxy so she can be tracked should she ever disappear again.

“She had a normal microchip, but those have to be scanned,” Kearn said. “So for dogs who are scared, they’re not much use if you can’t catch them. This will make sure this never happens again.”

Kearn and Matis said Roxy was scared when she came home, but could not be happier.

“She came right in and went straight to her red chair,” Matis said. “She didn’t want to move - she was exhausted. But she’s back to normal now.”

Now she is home with her buddy Amelia, who busies herself feeding Roxy treats and giving her the occasional bear hug.

The family credited Facebook with Roxy’s return.

“It has really opened my eyes to the issue of lost pets and what resources are out there for the families of these pets,” Miesnik said. “There are a lot of things people can do if their dog is lost, but unfortunately, if that time ever comes, most people do not know what to do or are too upset to think clearly.”

The family wanted people in Greenville and Pitt County to know that there are more options available to help find lost pets than those set up by the city or the county.

“The shelter and animal control can only do so much,” Miesnik said. “They work so hard and are such a big help, but it takes just a minute to post on Facebook and that gets hundreds or thousands of more eyes out there to help find them.”

Miesnik even added a page to her website - www.asecondchancemedia.com - to help reunite lost pets with their families.

“If we can help pets find their way home, we should,” Miesnik said. “I think most of us can identify with what it would be like to lose a family member like that. Every clue helps. Every sighting gives you more hope and brings you closer to finding them.”


Information from: The Daily Reflector, https://www.reflector.com

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