Staffers and volunteers at the South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights cheered this morning when one of them brought in a scared but safe German shepherd-mix — the same dog they had frantically tried but failed to catch before the blizzard and assumed had perished in the storm.
But after the snow had been cleared and roads plowed, someone spotted the dog this morning huddled on a porch near the shelter and called the humane society, said Emily Klehm, executive director of the society.
A worker was able to coax the dog to come close enough to grab her and bring her back to the shelter, where they named her Julia. She’s doing very well, appears to have a friendly personality and will soon need a new home, Klehm said.
Julia’s ordeal began Monday morning when an employee arriving at the shelter saw her tied to a pole in the parking lot, a common site at the society where many pet owners leave their animals before making sure they get inside safely.
The employee was still getting out of his car when Julia dog broke free and took off. Because forecasters were already predicting a historic blizzard would hit on Tuesday, volunteers and other staffers joined in the search to find the mutt.
Julia kept coming back to the parking lot, presumably because it was the last place she had seen her owner, but she kept darting away from people, Klehm said.
“She was just terrified,” Klehm said. “That’s when we gathered everyone we could find to try and coax her to come inside.”
For the next day and a half, they searched fields, yards and forest preserves and walked up and down train tracks with no luck. Then the blizzard hit and they reluctantly called off the search, assuming the dog’s chances of surviving were slim unless a good Samaritan found her and took her in.
Klehm said the shelter would never turn away an animal, however, too often people leave them tied to posts or in boxes at the front door of the shelter.
In fact, another stray dog was found running loose in the shelter parking lot this morning, she said. It’s unclear whether that dog was dropped off by someone or just happened to find the shelter on his own. He, too, is now safely inside the shelter.
Julia wasn’t the only dog at the shelter to have survived outside in the storm, Klehm said. Another dog was picked up by the society’s rescue workers Thursday morning after neighbors of a Chicago Heights man called Tuesday to report that the animal was left outside in the backyard during the storm.
Since the shelter was closed due to the storm, the rescuers couldn’t pick the dog up until today so he ended up spending the whole storm outside. The man, whose name is being withheld because he voluntarily gave up the dog, told rescuers he just didn’t want the dog inside his house. That dog is also waiting at the shelter to find a new home.