Safe after NINE YEARS!!
Holly, a southern rescue (lab, pointer mix), bolted from her new home back in 2006, when she was only seven months old. She made her way to the woods of the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls School in Thornwood, NY, just a few streets away from her home. In those woods she remained for nine years. The owners had then contacted the school but animal control made little to no effort to trap her. The school contacted a professional wildlife trapper, who also had no luck and quickly gave up. Holly was deemed untrappable and left to fend for herself, alone in the woods. A kind faculty member named, Beverly fed Holly and the large feral cat colony that resided on campus. It was that food that Holly survived on for many years. A dog house was donated for Holly but the cats quickly took that over and Holly was left to find her own shelter (see photo of her den below). The kids at the school referred to her as "Hawthorne" and she always stayed away never allowing anyone to come close, she was the campus ghost dog.
I was contacted by a concerned resident of Thornwood, NY and immediately headed out. I found Holly laying in an area on the outskirts of the woods where she was laying in the sun to get warm. I also found her den, deep within the woods mid point from where she was laying in the sun and the cat feeding station. I set up my enclosure, monitored 24/7 by a wireless camera and within less than 24 hours, she was walking in and out, I knew that was too easy. The next morning, I set the enclosure to trap and put the door in place. I watched her as she looked up and noticed something was different...she wouldn't go in. I waited a few days watching, hoping and praying...she was having nothing to do with it. I reconfigured the door so it was now propped straight up, so she couldn't see it. I watched, waited and rebaited for several days but only cats, cats and more cats, no sight of Holly. Several nights later, the pictures that I was waiting for came through on my phone, she went in, not only once but five separate times! I went out early the next morning and was there at 4am to bait the enclosure and rig the fishing line for me to pull. I stayed in my car all night watching and waiting but she never showed, just the usual feline characters. I decided to move my car much further away, almost the length of a football field away. I once again rigged it with a very loooong fishing line and rebaited and waited. At about 11:30am I saw Holly up on a hill in the woods with her nose in the air smelling the chicken and all the other food I had in that trap. 11:40am she was walking into my enclosure towards capture (photo below), when the camera showed me that she was all the way to the back, I gave that line a hard pull and Holly's life in the woods abruptly ended.
After I trapped Holly she was immediately brought to Pet Rescue NY, where she was fully vetted and evaluated. After almost nine years with no human contact, she allowed us to pet her, hold and kiss her. Holly's remarkable story is a true testament to just how resilient and highly intelligent dogs are, they are survivors! I hope that Holly's story brings renewed hope to all who have lost loved ones out there. Never give up, never lose hope. NINE YEARS!!!....
Her former owners who were also vetrinarians in the area were contacted. Although they were very happy to hear that she was found and captured, they expressed no interest in seeing her. Holly was adopted less than a week after rescue to an amazing family and she will have the happily ever after that she so deserves.