‘It’s more than a lost pet, it’s a family member’: Rossland residents help find Molly the dog

‘It’s more than a lost pet, it’s a family member’: Rossland residents help find Molly the dog

Molly the dog didn’t find its way home; home found its way to Molly.

A little dog is safe at home after being missing for nearly three weeks — thanks to an astounding effort by residents of Rossland.

Molly the dog was found near Columbia Ave. on Tuesday, after disappearing from her home on October 9.

“It was because of the whole community that Molly was found,” says owner Joanne Cremer. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Molly is a six-year-old Lagotto-Romagnolo, and came from Qualicum Beach, where she had a couple of litters of pups. Cremer is a fan of the breed, but says Molly was also a favourite of the previous owner.

“She entrusted Molly to us,” says Cremer. “It took her a long time to decide she could let her go.”

But Molly did eventually come to live with her new family. On October 8 she arrived by air in a travel crate to Trail, and Joanne picked her up there.

And less than 16 hours later, she was gone.

The search begins

“I took her out for a little walk up the street, and a loose dog came running at her. She became very frightened, threw her collar and took off.”

That began a 20-day nightmare for Cremer and Aldo Sterpin, her spouse.

Their new lost dog, with no street sense, was wandering a town where wild predators are common in the bush.

“She did not know the area, she has no ‘street sense’, and she’s very new here,” says Cremer. “I was devastated.”

And so the hunt began.

“We went out every single day, morning, noon and night,” says Cremer. “I would go out in the morning for the first few weeks, I took the lining out of her crate and lay it out on the deck. And I’d sit and wait. And I’d go out to the end of the driveway and play recorded sounds of her puppies, hoping she could hear them.

“I was out every day until I was completely exhausted after two weeks,” she recalled.

Almost from the start, friends and acquaintances began calling Cremer, offering help. A neighbour, Lindy Welsby, spearheaded the effort to get the word out.

“Before I knew it I had the whole community here,” she says. Posts on local Facebook and Bhubble pages kept track of sightings of Molly.

Soon there were so many people out looking they began sorting volunteers into committees, sub-teams, and co-ordinating search efforts.

“One group would go in the morning, another in mid-day, another group would go at night,” says Cremer. “I had contacted every organization I could think of — the SPCA, Rossland Search and Rescue, animal places, everything. “

Some team members made up posters and handbills, and started distributing them around town. They started searching in people’s yards and in alleyways.

A separate message board was created so team members could co-ordinate and keep each other updated without constantly disturbing the exhausted Cremer.

The search crew expanded its area, going as far as Tadanac and and Oasis, closer to Trail than Rossland.

Lisa Wegner was one of the members of the search crews.

“It was incredible, some of us would have given up for the day, then we would get a note saying ‘she was spotted on Columbia’, and we’re on the conference group and everyone would drop everything and go up there,” she says.

But there was still no sign of Molly.

Searchers grew more inventive. A total stranger from Vernon lent a wildlife trail-cam to the effort and helped in a ground search. A drone went up looking for her.

Wegner contacted the breeder and got her to ship some of Molly’s shed fur, collected from the wash-bin at her old home, in an effort to bring a familiar scent to the area.

In the end that wasn’t needed. The day her hair arrived, someone spotted Molly in an alleyway near Columbia Avenue.

“I was preparing dinner when they called, and I had lamb chops,” says Cremer. “I just grabbed a raw lamb chop and thought, ‘if this doesn’t get her, nothing will.’.

Not very long later — dirty, disheveled and with her ribs stretched over her skin — Molly was back at her new home. She had lost nine pounds- a third of her body weight.

Cremer called the breeder to tell her the good news.

“She was so relieved,” says Cremer. “We both cried and cried. Now, we’ve been crying off and on for the last 20 days. But I tell you, she was so grateful — both of us were beginning to think she may not be found.”

For Wegner and the other search team members, the experience may turn into a more formal arrangement for finding lost pets.

“It’s more than a lost pet, it’s a family member, and it has to be treated in the same manner,” she says. “We don’t have a search and rescue for our animals, like we have for kids…

“It gives us something to look forward to in the future, perhaps having something like a committee that has the availability to line up drones or wildlife cams or live traps,” she says. “The organization and communication was so outrageously good that we were communicating throughout the day, saying where teams were going out, and by debriefing you could plan for the next day.

“It illuminated even more just how much Rossland gets involved,” she says. “Everyone was watching, everyone was involved in some degree, it’s so inspiring to see people weren’t giving up.”

Safe and sound

Things are winding down, but the calls still keep coming in from friends wanting to check on how Molly and family are doing.

Molly’s quite unaware of the fuss she’s caused. Still a little skittish — she really doesn’t know her new family yet — she’s slowly beginning to calm down.

“She needs time to adjust, to rest, and recuperate from her 20 days of not knowing where she was and being frightened,” says Cremer. She, too, is still recovering from the experience, but says it really brought out something special.

“We live in a fantastic community who are caring and will jump in to help not only animals, but anyone in the community who needs help,” says Cremer. “I have met so many wonderful people, who are now my friends, so a tragedy has turned into a positive.”

Just Posted

Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Hospital emergency department closed this weekend

Closure due to unexpected limited physician availabiliy, says Interior Health

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Heidi Roy of the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek with the 3,000 jade boulder, which is now on secure display inside the shop. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Massive jade boulder returns to Cache Creek store six months after daring heist

The 3,000-pound boulder was stolen on Dec. 19, 2020 and found abandoned in the bush a week later

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Child sex crimes charges against Interior’s top doc won’t impact pandemic response: Dix

Dr. Albert de Villiers is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

Most Read