After an emotional few weeks for one Lundar family, their family dog who went missing in March, was safely returned home April 26, thanks to a Winnipeg-based veterinarian’s generous $1,000 donation.
The long ordeal started when Lela Harris’ dog Maverick disappeared from her home in Lundar March 24.
“We left his supper out and he just didn’t return. We knew something was wrong. Nobody had phoned to tell us that he was out their way or anything.”
“He never strayed far from home, and so when he didn’t return, we knew he wasn’t close to home,” she said.
Subsequently, Harris’ family spent days looking for the German Shepherd-Rottweiler mix, but could not find him.
Three weeks after Maverick had been on the go, Harris put a post on Facebook, telling friends and family he was still missing.
“My three-year-old, who is really close to him, was still looking for him and it just broke my heart, so I knew I had to share it with them,” Harris said.
The post was shared to the Winnipeg Animal Service’s Facebook page by a family member in the city.
Shortly after, Harris was browsing the page and spotted Maverick there. He had been renamed Bogart and was up for adoption after he was found wondering the city’s Amber Trails.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes. I immediately told my husband that I had found him there,” she explained.
Harris called the WAS after hours line and was told she had to confirm with the organization the following day that he was hers.
Harris and her daughter, Zendaya made their way to Winnipeg the next day, only to be told the Maverick had already been adopted out, as per their policies.
“It was devastating. They told me there was nothing they could do,” she said.
Harris headed home, without Maverick. Meanwhile, her online post gained momentum with supporters and naysayers alike commenting on the fiasco.
WAS contacted the family that had adopted the dog, knowing it had only been a short time since he was adopted out, and asked if they were willing to return him. The family declined.
“They (WAS) were helping out as much as possible. It still hurt me knowing there were people bonding with my dog, knowing the amazing relationships he has here,” Harris said.
Leland Gordon, a representative with WAS, contacted Harris April 26, and asked her to meet up at a golf course.
“Leland is a really good liar,” Harris said, laughing.
“He told me he would like to meet with me, because there was more paper work I had to fill in that could possibly help me get Maverick back,” Harris said.
Harris added the white lie worked ‘‘wonderfully”, because she hurried down to the golf course as soon as she could.
When she arrived, Harris was surprised with her beloved dog.
“When I saw Maverick again, it was the most incredible feeling ever. I wasn’t expecting my dog to come jumping out of the van,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe it and then when I brought him home, and he saw his girl (Zendaya), her reaction was absolutely priceless,” Harris said.
Zendaya hugged Maverick and the rest is history.
“They’ve been inseparable ever since,” Harris said.
“It’s really been an amazing feeling to have him home, he is just like another kid,” she said.
The reunion was thanks to Dr. David Stammell, a veterinarian, who, after watching the story unfold online, gave the adoptive family $1,000 to return Maverick to Harris.
“I never gave up hope that these people would do the right thing,” Harris said.
“But, I am so grateful for his generosity. There are no words to thank him enough,” Harris said.
“My daughter is over the moon that her best friend is finally home,” she said.
After receiving both criticism and support through her Facebook post, Harris said she advises people that have dogs to make sure they are properly identifiable to avoid confusion if they do go missing and are found.
“Make sure they have tags and are chipped and know your dog in detail,” she said.
“Maverick didn’t have his collar anymore when he got to Winnipeg, but I was lucky that I knew him very well and was able to identify him.”