Finding Maddox

CA woman embarks on a mission to find her lost dog
By JoAnna Lou, March 2013

Fortunately I've never had a missing pet, but just the thought of not knowing where my dogs are makes me feel a little bit panicked.

Jackie Vestal's Minature Pincher, Maddox, has been missing since Christmas Eve and she's been on a desperate search for the 7-year old pup ever since.

The Los Angeles woman rarely left home without Maddox, but she had to leave him with a friend in Oklahoma City while spending time in Texas during the holidays. Maddox was only there for a day when he bolted from the house, perhaps looking for Jackie. That night Jackie and her husband made the three-hour drive back to Oklahoma City to begin the search.

Jackie did the usual driving around the neighborhood and posting hundreds of fliers around the neighborhood. She also issued a pet amber alert that sent pre-recorded messages to vet offices, neighbors, and shelters, and made hundred of fliers to post around the neighborhood. Calls came trickling in, but none of them were the right dog.

Jackie knew that she had to get creative if she wanted to find Maddox.  She alerted the media, rented billboard space, and appeared on three different local television stations and a local dog talk show.

In addition, she hired a pet detective who flew in from Nebraska with scent dogs to try to track Maddox's scent. They're also using a method called Attract and Capture, a process that takes time but won't scare Maddox off. Jackie set up 13 feeding stations and a couple of deer cameras. For the stations without cameras, there is sand to track footprints. As soon as they see Maddox on camera and know he keeps coming back to the same feeding station, they'll set up a trap.

It's been almost 100 days since Maddox went missing and Jackie has taken a leave of absence from her job in Los Angeles to focus on finding him in Oklahoma City.

In the process of looking for Maddox, Jackie has also helped a lot of other dogs. There have been a lot of false leads and in following them, she's found a lot of dogs that aren't Maddox. Jackie has helped get 13 dogs off the street and into foster homes or back at home with their families.

Not everyone has Jackie's means to take time off from work or buy a billboard, but I think all pet lovers can relate to wanting to do everything possible to locate a lost loved one. Have you had any unconventional methods work to bring a lost dog home?

If you'd like to help out in the search for Maddox, visit Jackie's Facebook page, Twitter feed, or web site.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.