The original Nextdoor post read: “Lost Dog – has puppies who need her.” Valerie, rescue dog and new mom, has become famous this week for her epic journey through Huntsville.
After escaping a Parkway vet parking lot on January 28 while still trailing her leash, Valerie’s GPS tracker showed her racing across Huntsville and eluding capture for nearly two weeks.
In the first day, she moved from the Parkway to Monte Sano, over Monte Sano to Dug Hill Road, and back. Valerie’s Nextdoor post gained popularity as a large portion of Huntsville began following her story like a high stakes reality show.
That’s when volunteers sprang to action, asking repeatedly for Valerie’s most recent location, reporting sightings, and conducting searches. Individuals coaxed her with steak, an app of puppy noises, and rattling a treat bag. As neighbors tried various maneuvers to capture the skittish mama, Valerie made her way from Monte Sano to Five Points, Oakwood, and Mastin Lake areas.
One neighbor tracked Valerie until midnight one night with the help of tracker updates from Valerie’s foster mom. That’s when the two figured out the dog was moving through Huntsville’s large drain culverts, which accounted for her ability to move so rapidly from one location to another. As the days progressed, concern grew that Valerie was surely tired, wet, and hungry.
When the vet realized the GPS showed Valerie was doubling back to previous stops, they set out a large humane trap with tempting food. Searchers brought two of Valerie’s puppies to her most frequented location pings to try to draw her out with their scent. But Valerie continued covering large distances quickly, running from anyone who found her. The ongoing conversation spread from Nextdoor to other social media neighborhood and lost and found pages.
A week into the search, a request was put out for a volunteer with a drone to search the culverts. Another volunteer formed a team with a scent tracking bloodhound named Ladybird. The bloodhound picked up Valerie’s scent, but then lost it to the culvert system and wind.
Pings from the collar tracker slowed as the battery drained. Neighbors collectively cried and prayed as temperatures dropped and the tracker lost power.
It was ultimately a call to animal control that caught her. Neighbors shared and loved the great news when a lady near Oakwood Avenue spotted Valerie in her front yard and called animal control. Officer George Jones assisted in the rescue and the mama dog was safely reunited with her family.
Happy comments came rolling in:
“This has been the most interesting chain ever on ND.”
“Yea!! The whole neighborhood is excited!! Such happy news. Valerie is famous!”
“Thank you to everyone who reached out, searched endless hours, prayed, organized and provided resources! Our community is amazing! So proud to be a part of it and so thankful Valerie was rescued safely!”
The Nextdoor thread alone topped out at over 170 comments. Nextdoor’s motto is, “We believe by bringing neighbors together, we can cultivate a kinder world,” and in this case, we couldn’t agree more.
We’re so fascinated – and not a bit surprised – by our Huntsville neighbors we all know and love.
Special thanks to Heather and Jill for help with the story.
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Kelli Pavlovec writes as a hobby and as a career. She loves running in the rain, old British TV shows, reading fantastic literature, and all things nature. She’s taking a course on Fiction Writing this semester and hopes to finally write and publish some books which she’ll post at kellipav.com.