The Bratspis family — including their dog, Lucy — from Scottsdale, Arizona, spent the summer in New Jersey. Everything was going well until their return journey.
On July 31, the family decided to stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton to celebrate 15-year-old Zander’s birthday before continuing their drive to Chicago.
“We were even talking about how easy the ride was when we got out of Philadelphia,” Dad Brian told The Canton Repository. “It was just clear sailing the whole way.”
Until it wasn’t. Three miles from their hotel, they got into an accident, resulting in a pickup truck flipping onto the hood of the family’s car.
As Brian got out of the car, Lucy bolted — dragging her red leash — and ran off at high speed. Brian started to run after her, but stopped and turned back, realizing his wife and children needed him more.
Mom Randi and 12-year-old daughter Rylan were taken to the hospital, but somehow everyone involved walked away without life-threatening injuries.
Once the rest of his family was situated, Brian went back to the scene of the accident to look for their Schnauzer-terrier mix, but couldn’t find her.
The next morning, the whole family returned and searched, but the dog was nowhere to be found. Thankfully, some locals joined in, and before long there were posts on social media, flyers posted around the area and a $500 reward.
While the rest of his family returned to Arizona, Brian stayed in Canton for several days, desperately searching and following up on leads. But eventually, he, too, headed for Arizona.
“We’re still desperately searching for LUCY!” Randi posted in the Lost & Found Dogs Ohio Networking Group on Facebook. “Last seen fleeing our car accident July 31st, at Middlebranch Rd & 62 in Canton, Ohio. There’s been a few sightings, but nothing has panned out – remaining HOPEFUL that someone will find her!
“We appreciate all the time, effort and help that has come our way. **she is microchipped, has a collar and ID tag and was last seen with her red leash on!**”
Occasionally someone would spot the dog, but never during waking hours.
“She was coming out, apparently, in the middle of the night,” Brian told The Canton Repository. “Dog spottings were between like midnight and 3 o’clock in the morning.”
But things started to move quickly in a positive direction on Friday, starting with a near miss. Local Amanda Ammond was out on a Taco Bell run after 1 a.m. when a medium-sized dog darted in front of her car.
She didn’t manage to secure the pup, but she quickly connected the dots and posted the sighting online. Another local, Ramona Hartleben — known as “the dog whisperer” — set up cameras and food traps in the area Ammond last saw signs of the dog.
That did it. By Friday night, five weeks after she went missing, Lucy was captured and on her way to safety.
“They got her in the vet first thing this morning,” Brian said. “She’s being checked out. So far, so good.”
Lucy, who Brian is calling a “true survivor,” had lost 20 percent of her body weight, but she was alive.
“Thank you to all the people of Stark County, Alliance, Louisville, Canton and the surrounding areas,” Randi posted on Facebook on Sept. 4. “We are elated to announce our Lucy was found alive and well tonight within 1/2 mile from our crash site. Ramona Hartleben and her entire crew brought her to safety!
“We cannot say THANK YOU enough to so many others as well … [It] truly couldn’t have happened without all these angels … and the hundreds of people that have offered support and kindness in our time of need.
“For those of you that know our story, we may not have made it to the Hall of Fame as planned but we’ve encountered the TRUE hall of famers in the Canton, Ohio area. You’ve made our family whole again!”
By Monday, Randi was reunited with the family dog.
Ammond was offered the reward money but she declined it, so Brian plans on donating it to the other organizations involved so they can continue the good work they do for families like the Bratspis’ and dogs like Lucy.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.