Dog back home, thanks to Suffolk resident

Published 8:57 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When Felicia Packer of Virginia Beach lost her dog, she did not know if she would ever see her again. However, the diligence of a Suffolk resident and the care provided by Suffolk Animal Control brought the pup home again Sunday.

The 11-year-old miniature schnauzer, named Legacy, and another dog escaped from Packer’s yard in a military housing area off Shore Drive in Virginia Beach on April 17. Packer’s ex-husband searched for six hours that first night, eventually finding the other dog, but Legacy was still missing.

The Packers and their children, ages 5, 6 and 9, were heartbroken. They had had Legacy since she was a puppy.

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“Several nights that she was missing, our kids were crying at night,” Packer said. “I kept trying to convince my 6-year-old daughter that she was probably with a family that just hadn’t seen our fliers yet.”

The children made missing dog posters with crayons and hand-drawn depictions of Legacy. Their father laminated the fliers and plastered the neighborhood, putting them on telephone poles, trees and the front windows of every business that gave them permission.

“You could not live in the area she went missing and not know that the dog went missing,” Packer said.

As the days went by without Legacy, the children became more discouraged, and others were telling the family it was a lost cause.

“People were starting to tell us to give up and to have a memorial service for her,” Packer said.

Little did the Packers know that Legacy had been picked up on April 21 by Suffolk Animal Control, near the intersection of Interstate 664 and College Drive, and since then had been safe and sound at the shelter.

“We were flooding the animal controls, but would have never thought to look so far away,” Packer said.

Fortunately for the family, Suffolk resident Tiffany Reese took her daughter to Suffolk Animal Control on May 1 to look at the animals.

“We had gone down there just to look around, really,” Reese said. “Sometimes, I can’t help but go look.”

While there, Reese noticed a gray miniature schnauzer curled up in a ball in her cage and shaking. She had a collar with a rabies tag, and was listed in good health.

Something didn’t seem right to Reese. Stray dogs do not have collars, and are not usually in good health as soon as they’re picked up.

Reese went home and combed the lost-dog advertisements on classified site Craigslist, and found an ad Packer had posted. She contacted Packer and told her about the small gray schnauzer she had seen at Suffolk Animal Control.

“She said, ‘I know this is a long shot, but I think this dog may be your dog,’” Packer said.

Packer was skeptical at first, she admits. There was no way, she thought, that Legacy could have made it to Suffolk.

“She was obviously taken from our area and then, for whatever reason, dumped or left over in Suffolk,” Packer said. “There’s no way that my 11-year-old dog could have walked all that way in three days.”

Even so, Packer called the Chesapeake Square PetSmart on Sunday, where Suffolk Animal Control was doing an adoption event. Though the shelter is closed on Sundays, the shelter manager agreed to go to the shelter and wait for Packer.

At first, Packer said, Legacy didn’t recognize her when she walked into the shelter.

“She finally realized it was me and just started shaking,” Packer said. “On the way home she was putting her head out the window and kissing me.”

The children also were happy to have their best friend back.

“She is extremely close to the kids and us,” Packer said. “She was definitely a good lady that helped us out.”

As for Reese, the experience helped her recover from the loss of her own cat several years ago.

“I had a cat for nine years … and I never got her back, so now I feel if I can help someone else get theirs back, it was the right thing to do.”