San Antonio Pets Alive!’s transport program, known as Headin’ Home, is one of the organization’s core programs that works to save the lives of often overlooked medium and large dogs that are at risk of euthanasia in the city of San Antonio. However, when German Shepherd mix Cass managed to slip away from the transport company staff, the organization’s Executive Director, Rebecca Mayberry, called on friends, partners and advocates from the animal welfare network in the Valley of the Sun to find the wayward pup and bring her back home.
On Sunday March 17th, 2019, SAPA!’s Headin’ Home transport was making its way through Arizona on its journey to Washington state. When the vehicle came to a temporary stop to allow for some bathroom breaks and short walks, Cass – a sweet, shy shepherd mix who was uncertain and a little nervous – squeezed her way out of her collar and bolted straight into the wide, arid Arizona desert. Bordering a Native American reservation, the transport staff were unable to retrieve her and relayed the information back to SAPA! which launched an urgent search and rescue effort to bring Cass home.
Rebecca Mayberry, a previous resident of Phoenix, Arizona, was quick to reach out to previous contacts through email, phone, and even Facebook to try and rally a few people to go and search for Cass. Being all the way back in San Antonio, she had to rely on goodwill and close friends to begin the efforts to post flyers, spread the word on various social media outlets, and head out on foot to look for the frightened runaway. The call was quickly responded to by the volunteers of HARTT (Humane Animal Rescue & Trapping Team) in Arizona who set to work. The HARTT volunteers set one of their traps with appropriate food as bait and camera equipment after pinpointing the location where Cass had last been spotted, using tips and sightings from local businesses who had seen the shy shepherd mix in the area.
HARTT’s Executive Director, a San Antonio native, was quick to support the search efforts and assist in bringing the Phoenix-based volunteers to aid Cass’s plight. Together with Rebecca, the rescue was on!
When a humane trap was finally in place, baited with the only food available for miles, these volunteers and other advocates kept an eye on the area and the trap, watching carefully for sightings of Cass in hopes that hunger would drive her back to safety. A sighting on Monday night kept that hope alive, though Cass was gone again as quickly as she’d come.
Cass’s foster, a dedicated member of SAPA!’s large foster network, was quick to hop in her car and start the long drive to Arizona, determined to bring the shepherd home and back into her arms. The 15-hour drive was daunting, but it certainly wasn’t enough to keep her from going to where Cass needed her most.
On Tuesday night, Cass was spotted again. Heading for the trap and promise of food, the skittish shepherd finally made her way into the walls of the cage and was captured, recovered by the volunteers in Phoenix who were ecstatic that their method had worked! Cass was safe and was finally being returned to San Antonio, Texas. However, before their eventual journey home, Cass was also reunited with her foster family.
The next morning, Cass and her foster began the long drive back to San Antonio where she would stay, thanks to the hard work and incredible efficiency of animal advocates from both cities who were intent on recovering one little lost dog who just wanted to find her way home.
San Antonio Pets Alive! is forever grateful to the hardworking volunteers in Phoenix, Arizona for their help and dedication to reuniting Cass with her foster family. Because of the mishap, the transport company responsible for the shepherd’s escape provided a $500 refund to SAPA! which was then donated to the incredible HARTT organization for their help and assistance.
If you or someone you know has lost a personal pet, reach out to local rescue groups, social media channels, or friends and family. With the help of your community, your pet may just find their way back into your life and into your arms.
Read more about San Antonio Pets Alive!’s Headin’ Home transport program here: https://www.sanantoniopetsalive.org/transport-program/
Donate to help hundreds of dogs in San Antonio, Texas escape euthanasia and find their way to their families up North: https://www.sanantoniopetsalive.org/donate-to-transport/