When a beloved pet is missing, it is a difficult and stressful time for the pet owner, as well as the missing pet. People worry that the animal might be hungry, injured, stolen or even worse. Elkins resident Vicki Aucremanne faced this nightmare over Labor Day weekend when she and her 12-year old Maltese, Angel, found themselves accidentally separated.
When Aucremanne came home on the Sunday before Labor Day, her husband Dan said their gate did not latch properly due to the weather change, and all of their dogs got out into the alley.
"Dan said he got all of the dogs back into the yard, but Angel was not with the rest of the animals," Aucremanne said. "He said he had searched the neighborhood, but Angel was not located."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Vicki Aucremanne and her 12-year-old Maltese, Angel, reunited after being separated over Labor Day weekend. Aucremanne posted flyers around town and on her Facebook wall. Angel was found by Diane Corley the same day she went missing at the 11th Street Bridge in Elkins.
Aucremanne said she was immediately afraid for her precious Angel and began crying.
"I thought oh my, I have to find her," Aucremanne said. "And I knew I had to pull myself together to begin immediately searching to find her."
Angel normally wears a collar and her tags contain her name, the Aucremannes' name and a current phone number. She has also had a microchip implanted that can be scanned at animal shelters or veterinarian offices. The only problem was Angel had just had a bath, so her collar was not back on. The local vet offices and the animal shelter were closed due to the holiday weekend.
"I think some people think the microchip is a GPS, but that is not how it functions," Aucremanne said. "The device is scanned and tells the owner name and phone number. Once your animal has the chip, it is important to keep the registry up to date with your current phone number should your animal go missing."
Aucremanne said she pulled out an up-to-date photo of Angel and made flyers. She, her husband and friends began searching the area for the missing pooch. She also called WDNE Radio and made a missing pet report. She also contacted Kelly Scheidegger, the Randolph County Humane Society shelter manager.
"We emailed friends and posted our plight to get Angel back home on Facebook," Aucremanne said. "Social media is great to spread the word. Every time someone shares, the message gets to more and more folks."
Vicki said the more time that passed, the more worried she became.
"Angel has a bladder problem and she takes medicine and eats special foods," Aucremanne said. "I could not help worrying if she was okay. She is also an older dog, so she does not hear nor see as well as she used to."
Reports began coming in of people spotting a small white dog, and Aucremanne said she could follow Angel's path.
"The last report we had was someone in a maroon car had picked up a small white dog on the 11th Street bridge," Aucremanne said. "I continued to walk the streets, shaking a box of treats. Every bad thing you can imagine goes through your mind. I was so upset, but I kept thinking I could not fall apart because I needed to keep searching."
Aucremanne received a call that an announcement was made on WDNE Radio that someone had found a small, white dog.
"I called the radio station and they went through the messages and found the person's name," Aucremanne said. "The radio station called the person who found the dog and gave her my name and number."
Diane Corley was coming out of Kroger's on the Sunday before Labor Day when she saw a little white dog walking in the road.
"I stopped my car to see about the dog and a girl handed the dog to me," Corley said. "She was very friendly, and really exhausted. I took her home and gave her a bath."
Corley said the dog was very smart and she could tell she belonged to someone. She called the radio station and reported that she had found the dog, hoping she could locate the owner.
Since it was a holiday weekend, Corley did not call the animal shelter because she knew they only take messages. She was also going to put an ad in The Inter-Mountain first thing Tuesday morning.
"It turns out that Diane Corley and I would have met one another first thing Tuesday morning at The Inter-Mountain if we had not found each other before then," Aucremanne said. "She would be placing an ad for finding Angel, and we would be placing one for a missing small, white dog."
Corley said she hated to leave the dog home on Monday when she went to work.
"She is such a sweet dog," Corley said. "She stole our hearts in the short time she was with us."
Corley said she received a call from the radio station giving her the name and phone number of a local resident who had lost her small white dog.
"I wanted to make sure it was the true owners," Corley said. "When I heard who it was, I knew it would be okay."
Corley said she and Aucremanne made an appointment to meet so Aucremanne could get Angel back.
"When Vicki and Angel saw one another, Angel was all over her, licking her from head to toe," Corley said. "Vicki offered a reward, but I got my reward when they were reunited."
Aucremanne said she is so appreciative of the happy ending and thankful to everyone who helped get Angel back home safely.
Scheidegger said the Aucremannes are great pet owners, but accidents happen. She said it is best to always be prepared and offers the following tips for pet owners: