Search touches many in Swift Current

Christina Lehnert Switzer places food in a trap, Jan. 11.

The fate of a lost dog has touched many hearts in Swift Current and residents rallied in an effort to find it.

A black Dachshund, commonly known as a wiener dog, was first seen early on Tuesday morning, Jan. 7. He was on the edge of the Highland Park neighbourhood in the city’s northwest at the Battleford Trail West and 11th Avenue NW intersection.

This sighting was reported on Swift Current Missing Pets, a public Facebook group used by members of the community to report lost or found pets.

Over the next few days the mysterious little dog was spotted several times in the frozen field north of Battleford Trail West, and concerned residents started to look for it. There were reports that he looked very skittish and he ran away into the field if someone tried to approach.

There was growing concern over the well-being of this animal due to dropping temperatures, and more people started to get involved with the search. They drove around in the area in the hope of spotting the little dog in the field and some canvassed the neighbourhood and adjacent rural properties.

On Thursday afternoon, Jan. 9, a group of people came out after the dog was spotted again, and they were even joined by several RCMP officers, but the animal evaded them. It was the last time the dog was seen, but the search efforts continued thereafter.

Christina Lehnert Switzer was one of the city residents who became actively involved with the search effort and she also brought a trap late on Thursday afternoon, which was placed at a quonset in an area where the dog was spotted.

“It was pretty cold out,” she said. “We just hoped he would come back for the food. So we set up the traps, we brought a shelter, just in case he showed up, because you can't leave the trap overnight. You have to keep checking it every hour. So after we were done checking the traps, then we brought a shelter in case he showed up after we closed the traps up for the night and we put food out here.”

There were no reports of a lost Dachshund and it added to the mystery of where this dog came from and how it ended up in this area.

“The SPCA was contacted right away to see if anybody has reported their dog missing and no one has,” she said. “There's no owner that's come forward looking for him. We don't know it's name, we don't know where it came from. Maybe he does live near here and for some reason they let him out, but with how cold it is, and at least two of the ladies that were looking for him have that type of dog themselves and they've said they can't handle the cold very well and they would never let their little dog like that be out for that long.”

Late on Friday afternoon, Jan. 10, another group of about 10 people, including Lehnert Switzer, went out to look for the dog. They walked in the field where he was spotted before and also searched the coulees beyond the field.

She set out the trap again on Saturday and also walked through several coulees north of the field to look for any signs of the dog.

“I love animals,” she said. “No one is going to take care of them but us. They don't fend for themselves. They need us. I follow that missing pets page all the time and I'm the kind of person that if you can do something, you should do something. This is what I can do. I can set up a trap and I can monitor it, I can go walk through the field.”

She noted that all the others who got involved with the search efforts seem to have the same kind of attitude of doing something to help.

“They're obviously the kind of people that are not just going to sit at home and assume someone will find him or assume he's OK,” she said. “They're the kind of people that get in their car and go look.”

Since Jan. 11, when she walked through several coulees, it has become too cold to search on foot, but people have still been driving in the area in the hope of spotting the little dog.

Lehnert Switzer was impressed with the response in the community to the effort to look for this dog.

“We have a huge amount of animal lovers in the city and you do what you can,” she said. “I think most people have a soft spot for animals, whether they have pets or not. A lot of the people that were out looking have dogs or cats and it's really hard for them to picture something like this. They think of their animal being out here.”

She felt social media and the information shared through the Swift Current Missing Pets Facebook page made a difference in the effort to search for this dog.

“Social media are how people get together and know about this stuff and the more we use that as a tool for stuff like this, the better,” she said. “The more people are on that page that see something and then react, even if you aren't sure what you can do, but just try. Doing something is better than nothing.”

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