Arlington, VA

After an eventful week of roaming North Arlington, Hannah the Australian Cattle Dog mix was recently returned to her foster human.

It took dozens of neighbors, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington to bring her home. The two organizations canvassed neighborhoods, put up fliers and relied on sightings from community members to set humane traps.

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Deputy Director Rebecca Goodhart credits Hannah’s safe return to vigilant neighbors and the hard work of animal control officers. The Aussie mix occupied the forefront of many neighbors’ minds, with Arlingtonians talking about Hannah everywhere Goodhart looked for her.

“The community was tremendous reporting sightings and asking how they could help, and spreading the word to friends,” Goodhart said. “It was awesome.”

A nervous dog, Hannah was likely stressed and scared after transitioning to living in a house in Arlington, Goodhart said.

Hannah had squeezed past her foster owner and bolted on Oct. 6, just a few days after she was placed in her new foster home, she said. Over the next week, she followed her water source — small streams — through neighborhoods and parks.

Many Arlingtonians kept tabs on the saga through Nextdoor, the private neighborhood networking platform. Users reported seeing her in Rivercrest, Bellevue Forest, Woodmont and Gulf Branch, posting updates and photos whenever they saw Hannah.

“Kids just saw her… 11:25 a.m.,” said one Cherrydale resident.

“Just seen passing through our yard at 12:30 heading in the direction of Windy Run,” said a subsequent Nextdoor post.

Goodhart said she spent 13 hours on Friday, Oct. 9, tracking Hannah from sighting to sighting — but the Aussie Cattle Dog mix stayed five minutes ahead of her all day.

Homeward Trails asks neighbors not to try and catch or feed lost dogs. Giving chase scares them and feeding them makes them less likely to go after the food in the traps. People with gates are asked to leave them open so that if dogs wander in, they can be closed inside.

Finally, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, Hannah took the food bait and was captured in another dog foster family’s yard. On Nextdoor, dozens rejoiced at the news that she was rescued.

Goodhart said Homeward Trails is grateful to animal control officers who were “completely tireless in helping us” and to the community, who helped bring Hannah back.

“We seriously could not have asked for a better place for this dog to be lost,” she said. “You never want a dog that’s lost, but the community was incredible.”

Homeward Trails places about 1,000 foster dogs in homes a year. The local organization works with under-resourced shelters in the area, particularly West Virginia.

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