King, a four-year-old greyhound, has been missing since Aug. 6. He was last seen at the Oak Lake Golf Course. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Danielle Kelly's 18-year-old dog Tugger has been missing since Dec. 31. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
A new Facebook group is helping Brandonites reunite with their lost pets.
Brandon and Area Lost Animals (BALA) was started in November by Toni Gramiak and Funds for Furry Friends, a non-profit animal rescue service in southwestern Manitoba, as a 24-hour resource to create awareness about missing animals.
"It’s really hard to be at the right place at the right time — so the more people who know, the more people will be out there looking," Gramiak said.
The page had 245 "likes" as of Friday, but Gramiak said there needs to be thousands of people liking the page to spread full awareness.
BALA was created and inspired by a missing four-year-old greyhound named King, who has been missing since Aug. 6, last seen at the Oak Lake Golf Course, more than 50 kilometres southwest of Brandon.
"We know he’s still out there, so we’re still looking," she said.
Another Facebook page, Help Find King, has been posting updates, including a sighting as recent as three weeks ago.
"Having that support, even just knowing other people are out there looking for your pet can really keep you positive," Gramiak said.
Linda Smith used the group to help cope when her dog Cooter was missing for 11 days. Cooter reappeared on the step of Smith’s home one morning when she was letting her son’s dog out.
"I thought I was dreaming when I saw him there, the one dog went out and he came in," she said.
The group response was overwhelming to Smith, who said she doesn’t know what she would have done without the extra support.
"The whole time I was thinking where is he, what’s he doing, is he safe? But the group, and Toni especially, was really helpful for keeping my spirits up and reassuring me," she said.
Gramiak has gone through the experience herself. Two years ago her dog, Charm, went missing for eight days.
"I wanted to sleep in my car out in the country, if she was out there then I wanted to be out there too," she said. "My life stopped."
For some people, moving on with their life is sometimes a hard choice to make.
Danielle Kelly’s 18-year-old dog Tugger has been missing since New Year’s Eve.
"If he were four years old it might be a different story, but he’s 18, and it’s hard to say it the right way, but I don’t think he’s coming back," she said.
A few years ago Kelly had taken over care for her grandfather’s dog, Ruff, who was also 18. Ruff had run away and when she found him in a ditch his fur was frozen to the ground and he was barely holding on.
"I scooped him up and took him to the vet and now I realize I shouldn’t have done that," she said.
The vet had told her that Ruff was preparing to die and had a pack mentality, meaning he was looking for a place to hide to protect the family from predators.
"If Tugger is looking for a place to hide, well, he’s a smart dog and he’ll find it," she said.
The quick response Toni and BALA gave her post surprised Kelly, who received phone calls from the group’s missing animal consultant two minutes later, to get further details. A day after she made the post, more than 77 people had shared it on their timelines. BALA made a posted posters of Tugger, including a map of the regular route Kelly took Tugger on walks.
"The thing about a Facebook group is that people will get notifications and make a detour on their lunch break or drive to work, or go for a walk and then post the different areas they covered," she said.
The hard work and dedication from complete strangers has brought Kelly some hope.
"My fiancé is out there looking for him right now," she said. "And I can’t believe the army of people who are out there to look for this little guy. Just to find him, if he comes home or not, it would be closure."
The BALA Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/ManitobaBala.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 5, 2013