It’s been a search 13 days in the making, but finally, Leo, the dog who went missing on New Year’s Eve, has been found.
Leo first went missing when his owners, Alex Choiniere and Alicia Fleet, dropped him off at Thousand Islands Dog Resort on Dec. 31 at 10 a.m.
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According to the kennel’s owner, Dave Sly, the dog escaped just hours after Fleet and Choiniere left.
Since New Year’s Eve, the owners have been joined by hundreds of volunteers and Lost Paws Inc., a missing dog search team based out of Kitchener, as they tried to track down Leo.
According to Fleet, people from Brockville and as far as Belleville have driven to the Limestone City upon hearing about Leo on Global Kingston. Despite several sightings of the dog, day after day, the search was coming up empty handed.
Lost Paws Inc. was giving the family tips over the phone to help find the dog, but this week they travelled up to Kingston to help trap Leo.
On Jan. 12, all that searching came to fruition, and Leo was found in an abandoned barn, where he had been making his den for the last several days, according to Susan Oldford with Lost Paws Inc.
Olford said they had been tracking the dog and knew he would be coming back to the barn, so they went back to the barn to set up a camera, and were planning to return at midnight to catch him.
But when they arrived, Leo was already in the barn.
At first, Olford said Leo was scared and aggressive. She explained that dogs go into survival mode when they go missing in the wild, which is one of the reasons Leo was so hard to find, despite so many people looking for him.
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But Olford explained that when Leo’s owners arrived, he recognized them right away and he calmed down.
“He was ready to come out,” said Olford.
Although the dog was safe, Olford said he was in rough shape. He had frost bite on his paws and he was very thin.
Leo’s owners brought him to the vet to be assessed and taken care of.
The team from Lost Paws Inc. left for Kitchener on Saturday evening, but extended a huge thank you to all who helped find Leo. Olford said neighbours gave them unlimited access to their property and were extremely helpful in the search.
She had one last piece of advise for those whose dogs go missing — don’t give up the search.
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