- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - After a New Jersey adventure, a runaway dachshund is on her way back to Gaffney.

Jersey Girl, who was formerly known as Buttercup, will be returning with Beth Osment, a Humane Society of Cherokee County volunteer.

Osment rescued Jersey Girl in Cherokee County about 6 months ago, finding her at a home overcrowded with dachshunds and mixes. After the humane society intervened, several dogs were adopted from the home, and others were spayed and allowed to stay with the owners.

Due to her previous living conditions, Jersey was poorly socialized and very shy. She also was suffering from demodectic mange, a curable skin condition caused by mites, so Osment took her home to nurse her back to health.

“I knew she was very sweet, but she just didn’t know how to be loved,” Osment said. “She had never been played with.”

A family in New Jersey adopted Jersey’s siblings and wanted to adopt Jersey, too. Osment arranged for a transport company to take Jersey on June 26 to the Burlington County Animal Alliance, where she would be adopted.

“I had a little reservation because I had grown to love her so much,” Osment said. “But the family was going to work with her.”

The driver of the transport van allowed Jersey to ride on his lap for the journey. When they met for the drop off, the driver placed Jersey on the ground with her siblings and Jersey bolted. No one could catch her.

Osment said she was heartbroken when she heard what happened. For a few days, she waited anxiously to hear any news about Jersey. Her friend and fellow volunteer Holly Rice sent Osment a text.

“I said, ‘Do we need to take a road trip?’” Rice said.

Osment eventually couldn’t stand not knowing where Jersey was, and she and Rice headed to Burlington, New Jersey.

When they arrived at a Best Western hotel in Burlington, they found that the Burlington County Animal Alliance already had posted a flier there for Jersey. The dog had been seen a few times in a nearby neighborhood, but no one was able to approach her without causing her to bolt again.

The fliers were distributed throughout the neighborhood, and Osment and Rice stopped to talk to people they saw to spread the word. Wednesday night, they never saw Jersey. Thursday, the women found the frightened dog sitting in a driveway, but before Osment could get out of the car, Jersey ran away again.

Rice and Osment spoke to the Deiker family in the neighborhood. That night, the family saw Jersey sniffing around the bushes near their garage. They had a humane trap and decided to bait it with turkey bacon. Early Friday morning, Osment received a call that Jersey was in the trap.

“It was a miracle,” Osment said. “Holly and I were like, ‘Is this real?’”

“I jumped up and said, ‘Let’s go,’” Rice said. “We said, ‘Are we dreaming?’”

The women rushed over to get Jersey. When the dog smelled the familiar toys and blanket Osment brought, she began to whimper and wag her tail.

“And she’s just been laying down in my lap ever since,” Osment said Friday from her hotel room in New Jersey. “Even though we’re not in Gaffney, I feel like we’re home.”

Rice and Osment don’t blame the transport company. Jersey had done well during the drive, and everyone involved believed she would respond well to meeting the dogs she had lived with before.

“She was just in a foreign place,” Rice said. “We don’t blame the transport company - they’re very reputable. This was just a freak thing.”

Rice is thankful for the help they received from the Burlington Animal Alliance. Each day Jersey was missing, volunteers from the group were out looking for her, Rice said.

“We couldn’t have done this without our new friends in New Jersey,” she said.

The Deiker family refused to accept the $2,000 reward offered for Jersey. The Burlington rescue group will use the money to rescue and treat abused animals in the family’s honor, Osment said.

A trip to the vet to make sure Jersey was fit to fly home was set. Home for the little shy dog is now Gaffney.

“I’m not ever going let her go again,” Osment said.

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