Jax, the runaway Yorkshire terrier-chihuahua, is shown here with Heaven-Lee Sloat, daughter of Jax’s owners. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Jax, the runaway Yorkshire terrier-chihuahua, is shown here with Heaven-Lee Sloat, daughter of Jax’s owners. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Incredible effort by amateur pet detectives brings home lost B.C. dog

Community effort in Campbell River helps reunite Yorkshire terrier-chihuahua Jax with family

A Campbell River woman says a concerted effort by her community and a local animal shelter helped bring her lost pup home safe and sound.

Penny Moch was in despair after her Yorkshire terrier-chihuahua went missing this summer.

What followed was an elaborate search that involved social media tipsters and a live-animal trap in the woods, equipped with a video camera. Ten days passed before Moch was reunited with Jax.

“It was almost like the elusive sasquatch,” said Moch. “We’d get sightings of him but no one could catch him.”

Jax slipped away through an open door. One of Moch’s granddaughters went looking for the dog, and other family members soon joined the search. Meanwhile, Moch was posting about her lost dog on Facebook.

Someone online reported that he’d seen a little dog in the middle of Hwy. 28, across the river from Moch’s home at the Woodburn trailer park.

Jax the dog was missing for 10 days, before a community effort brought him home. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror.

Facebook users then reported seeing the dog heading east, towards Haig-Brown House. But nobody could find Jax in the area, and by the next day, there were no new sightings of the five-year-old pup.

“I had given up,” said Moch, who had bottle-fed Jax as a puppy. “I figured he was dead in the middle of a ditch somewhere.”

Meanwhile, Nikki Watts had been putting up brightly coloured posters.

“That’s just part of what I do,” said Watts, who volunteers as vice president of Campbell River Partners for Animal Welfare Society, also known as PAWS.

Watts also coordinates Lost and Found Animals of Campbell River, a Facebook group run by the PAWS group. The organization works closely with Coastal Animal Control and the BC SPCA.

People use the Facebook forum to alert fellow members about errant cats and dogs, or other animals like bunnies and chickens spotted roaming the street.

READ: Campbell River firefighters rescue imperilled pooch from third-storey roof

WATCH: Work is play for this B.C. avalanche rescue dog

Moch’s post about Jax – which noted that “he recently had a haircut so looks a lot like a chihuahua” – was shared more than 50 times on the group.

But it was the placards on the street that yielded a tip leading Moch to a wooded area on the Inland Highway, near Willis Road.

That became the focus of the search, as volunteers came out to walk the trails. They also helped check a doggy trap that was set up in the area as tipsters spotted the dog over the next several days.

Campbell River PAWS also set up a video camera on the trail, which allowed the pet detectives to review footage showing that Jax was in the area.

The group later released a video containing footage of the dog as he nibbled on food placed nearby as bait.

Story continues below video.

Trails of food – including fish, a “stinky food” liable to attract the dog – led to a live-animal trap, camouflaged by foliage.

Zap straps held the doorway open at night, since it’s dangerous for an animal to remain stuck in the cage for more than a few hours. People checked the trap frequently during the day.

Other familiar objects belonging to Moch, such as her nightgowns, were placed inside the trap, for Jax to pick up the scent.

Her daughter, Heaven-Lee Sloat, was even prepared to camp out to recover the lost pooch.

“Me and a couple of friends, we were going to set up a tent and a little lantern in the woods and go play cards all night long, and see if he came to us sitting there quietly,” she said.

They didn’t have to resort to that.

The dog had been missing for more than a week, when Moch’s husband, Dan, was heading into the forest to check the traps along with Watts and an amateur pet detective from the Comox Valley.

Suddenly, Dan spotted the elusive pet. He was about to run after it, but the Comox Valley helper urged him to sit down and speak softly to the dog.

“When Jax realized it was him, he came flying out of the woods and leaped into Dan’s arms,” said Moch. “When Dan was heading back to the vehicle, [Jax] was going nuts because he spotted me out at the highway.”

It was an emotional reunion after a 10-day absence.

“Everybody was crying,” said Moch. “The granddaughter’s looking at everybody and she’s going: ‘Why are you guys crying?’”

She credited Watts and Campbell River PAWS for getting the word out, and thanked the many people who helped with the search.

PAWS is looking for volunteers, Watts said, urging people not to give up if their animal friend goes missing.

“If you lose an animal, don’t panic,” she said. “Post, ask, and we’ll help.”

@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak hits first Greater Victoria hospital

Island Health declares outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

On Nov. 23, Saanich council voted unanimously in favour of sending a letter encouraging the federal government to pass a bill to declare Sept. 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich calls for national day of reconciliation honouring residential school survivors

Sept. 30 statutory holiday would recognize harm residential schools caused, mayor says

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by former Saanich resident surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Greater Victoria 4-H club member Sava Bell is all smiles holding some of the garden fresh ingredients he used to make his award-winning dish for the Field to Fork Challenge. (Courtesy Agriculture in the Classroom)
Greater Victoria 4-H members among winners in provincewide cooking competition

Field to Fork Challenge encourages B.C. youth to prepare healthy, local foods

12-year-old Ella Smiley captured some video of orcas on a sea lion hunt on Nov. 28 at Kitty Coleman Park, just north of Courtenay. Photo by Ella Smiley
VIDEO: Orcas hunt sea lion near Vancouver Island shoreline

Twelve-year-old Ella Smiley, of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings, caught up with a… Continue reading

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Most Read