The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 22, 2013

Neighbors band together to save pooch on loose

Randy Griffith

JOHNSTOWN — Lost and alone, the terrier-mix dog huddled under Judy Heinze’s arborvitae bush off Luzerne Street Extension in Westmont.

“I talked to her every day,” Heinze said. “I told her how nice she was, but she just barked at me. It’s a nice dog.”

Heinze wasn’t the only one who noticed the new muzzle on the block. Residents throughout the Palliser-Luzerne street neighborhood made the stray a project.

Several spent hours trying to catch the dog during the past 10 days or so, Ellen Singleton of Palliser Street said.

“This was a real neighborhood effort,” Singleton said.

“The police were here many times. No one could catch it.”

Some pored over the lost-pet ads in The Tribune-Democrat classifieds and others checked different websites, but there were no reports to match the dog.

Police contacted Larry Crespo, animal control officer for Westmont. He told the neighbors he could take the dog to Humane Society of Cambria County, but first someone had to catch her.

To make matters more difficult, the neighborhood straddles the Westmont-Southmont borough line. Southmont is outside Crespo’s jurisdiction.

One of the neighbors volunteers with the Humane Society, and knew the organization rents out a live catch trap for larger animals. She arranged to pick up the trap over the weekend.

“We were getting really concerned because they were predicting this cold weather,” Singleton said. “This is a wonderful neighborhood. Nobody wanted this dog to freeze.”

The trap was set on the Westmont side of the line on Sunday morning.

The ad hoc dog rescue committee of neighbors rustled up some food for bait and set up a schedule to check the trap. It was agreed that the trap’s door would be closed at 4:30 p.m. so the dog wouldn’t be stuck there at night.

At 3:45 p.m. Sunday, a the on-duty trap attendant saw the dog go in and start eating.

Crespo was alerted and managed to deliver the rescued pooch to the Humane Society before it closed for the day.

And the neighborhood breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“It was heartbreaking,” Heinze said. “It think it was just scared to death. It was just too cold to be out there.”

The Humane Society’s cooperation was invaluable, Singleton said.

“They are the true heroes here,” she said.

The female dog, estimated at 4 or 5 years old, appears to be none the worse for her experience.

“She seemed to be fine,” Crespo said. “Of course, it was cold, and the people were getting concerned.”

The Humane Society has had no reports of a missing dog matching her description, but the dog is being held through today in case someone claims her. By Thursday morning she will be available for adoption, Executive Director Jeannine Gailey said at the shelter on Galleria Drive Extension.

“She is really sweet,” Gailey said. “She is gives kisses. She just had no idea where she was or where to go.”

The neighbors may have saved the dog’s life, she added.

“In this weather, I can’t imagine any dog outside any longer than they have to be to go to the bathroom,” Gailey said.

Dogs who can’t be brought indoors on these frigid nights should be allowed into a garage or other shelter, with additional bedding, she said.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.