Pamilla’s Hudson Valley journey began when she was brought to NY after being purchased from a breeder in Ohio by her new owners. They had her for less than a day and when they arrived back in NY at 3am, she was left unattended in a vacant home with a door left open for her to go in and out to a fenced in pool area on her own. At 7am when they went to check on her, she was gone.
Sightings quickly began coming in, she was on the move traveling at first between Blooming Grove and the village of Chester.
Joe Scalia, the animal control officer for the Humane Society of Blooming Grove was working hard to help the owners from day one. When it became evident that this dog was not stopping anytime soon, he reached out to me and asked for help. Together Joe and I worked endlessly around the clock to bring her to safety. Countless sightings were being tracked and her areas of travel were becoming more expansive.
With the sightings we learned that she was traveling the Heritage trail, the power lines, railroad tracks and veering off the trails to take well needed rests on various properties. We finally had Pamilla returning to a property multiple times off the Heritage Trail that feeds feral cats. She would show up, eat a bit and go take a nap up on the high rocky embankments that overlooked the property and then once again she was gone and traveling up to 7 plus miles away each day but always eventually returning to this location.
Through a posting on social media we learned who the original owner/ breeder in Ohio was and immediately reached out. The information and her backstory that we received was vital and helped us better understand her behavior and what we needed to implement to capture her safely. Pamilla was a HUGE escape artist and as her former owner explained, nearly impossible to contain. She would break through windows, doors, rip out chain link fencing and dig huge holes to get under and out of any type of fence, kennel or enclosure. She would escape and travel miles back and forth at her old home. She was not a food motivated dog and would go for days without eating.
We kept posting on social media to please not chase, feed or approach but well intentioned people refused to heed our advice and at times posted that our process was not working and that they felt they needed to chase her down. This resulted in only pushing her further and further away, at times, all the way to Campbell Hall, NY. Tibetan Mastiffs are strong, powerful, dogs and if she felt threatened by being chased or pursued we did not want anyone to get hurt.
With her history, I decided to no longer use the enclosure we had set up for her for fears that she would escape it, I simply wasn’t going to take that chance. I set a massive custom trap that I had fabricated for extremely large powerful dogs, it was bomb proof and I knew Pamilla would not be able to breakout. Joe and I hiked the massive trap down the trail right in what we believed to be her path of travel. We also placed a car blanket that her former owner had sent with their other dogs scent on it.
Several nights of me sleeping in the truck monitoring the cameras and traps were exhausting but necessary with the cats and the wildlife continually showing up. Tracking her travel pattern we knew she would be returning back to the property off the Heritage Trail. With each sighting we saw that she was getting closer, 6 miles out, five miles out, 3 miles out, heading back in the direction we needed her to go. It was just a matter of time and we were confident she would be back and we were there and ready for her when she returned.
Thursday morning at 8:20am, my camera went off and it was Pamilla, waltzing down the trail and checking out the trap. The trap was filled with chicken, steak, hot dogs, you name it, it was in there but as Pamela’s former owner stated, she wasn’t food motivated. She was more interested in the car blanket and I watched her on the camera as she sniffed it intently , fluffed it, played with it and eventually laid on it, howling as if she was calling out to her family that she was taken from. It was heartbreaking to watch. She continued to nap through out the day, getting up stepping in the trap a couple steps then backing out.
We had only until 4 pm when the property owner needed to get to his tractor, which was directly off the trail and would most likely spook her away… again. Time was ticking and our hearts were racing but at 3:40 Pamilla leisurely got up from her nap and decided she was ready to eat. She walked in and took her final step onto that trip plate and BOOM, she was captured, ending her 16 day odyssey through five towns in the Hudson Valley.
Lost dog recovery is a process and there is a lot of work that goes into it, each case and dog has its own story and needs to be handled accordingly. What is going on behind the scenes is not shared on social media for very good reason. A trap is not a magical box that you put out and the dog miraculously finds it and goes right in. People see other dogs on social media trapped but have little to no concept as to what truly goes into getting these dogs safely captured. If you see instructions posted for lost dogs, please heed that advice, respect the process and allow the people who are tirelessly working the cases to do their jobs. What you see on social media is a mere glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes.
Joe Scalia, I am so thankful for you and the countless hours you put into this case. You went above and beyond your job description and not only are you an amazing ACO, colleague and friend, the town of Blooming Grove is lucky to have someone who truly is dedicated to the well being and safety of the animals in their jurisdiction. I am proud to know you my friend… “Appalachian Joe”! lol.
Thank you to all who reported sightings and a huge thank you to Tom and Patricia who allowed us access at all hours night and day to access the trap and even delayed an oil delivery so it wouldn’t spook Pamilla off the property, the day of capture. Many thanks to the Blooming Grove Police Dept and all the residents who allowed cameras and feeding stations along the way.
Pamilla is now back with her new owners after being evaluated at animal control. We truly hope that all necessary precautions will be taken to continue to keep her safe.
*From animal control - “Pamilla was held for days so that there could be much deliberation, education and inspection of the new home the family was moving into before she could be returned. Rescuers are limited to an extent of what they can do in a situation like this. They went above and beyond to ensure that she was going to a safe place including requiring weekly inspections moving forward so please don’t pass judgement so quickly.”