Delilah is home for Christmas

Ryan Toporowski hadn’t seen his Staffordshire Terrier Delilah for a month. She had been lost, hungry, thirsty, cold, bewildered and scared. On Wednesday afternoon, man and dog stood just feet from each other, but something was wrong. Her solid build had withered away to an emaciated state. Worst of all, she seemed afraid of him. When he knelt beside her she growled, howled and turned her back to him – the same dog who never stopped playing and always had a toy in her mouth.

He backed away, not wanting to cause her more trauma. And then he made a phone call, of sorts.

“I moved away and tossed my cell phone down for her,” said Toporowski. “She sniffed it, looked up at me and then she came running, got under my legs and curled up in a ball. She knew she was home.”

Toporowski, head coach of the Campbell River Storm junior hockey team, and his partner Ashley Barney had enlisted the help of professional dog searchers in the month-long search for Delilah. Then Ryan received a phone call on Wednesday afternoon from a resident in the 2500 block of Gold River Highway.

The mailman had alerted the resident that there was a “scary dog” out on his deck. The resident went to investigate and immediately recognized her as Delilah due to the pink collar she had been described as wearing when she went missing, which had been in the Dec. 5 front page story in the Courier-Islander.

The rescued dog had only been with her new owners for a month and a half before she was lost. She was described as very timid and afraid of people she didn’t know. She had not been socialized well in her past life and Barney had said they were working on it at the time she went missing and had seen some good results. But she feared that after being lost for so long, Delilah may have gone into a “wild state.”

Toporowski says she has lost a third of her body weight, going from 75 to 50 pounds. “The vet says her vitals are okay, but she is dehydrated and malnourished and of course her temperature is down,” he said. “She is on an intravenous and she is coherent.”

Delilah will be at the veterinary hospital while they run some tests and check her kidney function.

Delilah’s situation had gone viral locally, and resulted in many spontaneous searches, reports of sightings as well as many theories of where she might be. Hundreds of people were watching out for her, and posters were distributed by worried dog lovers who have never met Delilah,

The Facebook page on Delilah was taken down Wednesday morning, just hours before she was found. Toporowski, on the advice of the professional dog searchers, had asked people to stop searching in the area she was lost because it may have been driving her further into the bush.

There had been numerous sightings of her since she slipped her walking collar and ran away from her dog walker on Nov. 21, including near the estuary behind the Brick, being walked by someone in Campbellton, wandering by Rona, Twillingate and Colorado roads. But the place she has been reported to have been seen most often was up by the old gun range on Argonaut Road.

Many people had started to worry that things were not going to end well for Delilah because she had been gone for so long. But other lost dog stories kept local hopes up.

Last Saturday, Cody, a four-year-old flat coat retriever was found after being lost in the North Shore wilderness since last May. He had wandered off during a walk and after months of searching, the owners enlisted the help of Petsearchers Canada, who used motion detectors, baits, traps, and finally pinpointed his location, catching him with a net. He was reported to be thinner, stinky and matted, but he is back with his loving family.

A six-year-old Lab mix survived nine months lost in the wilderness in Nevada and endured rugged terrain, freezing weather, all with a lame foot and even survived being shot by a BB gun. He had jumped out of a camper unseen during a pit stop on a road trip.

Toporowski said he was very appreciative of the support and assistance provided by the public.

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Delilah update

Despite taking a week off work to look for his beloved dog Delilah, who ran away from a dog walker on Nov. 21, Ryan Toporowski has been unable to find her and has had to return to work.

“She has been missing three weeks today with fewer calls of sightings coming in,” Toporowski said, clearly emotional about the prospect of not finding her. “I cannot be looking for her as much now, but there have been sightings in the Twillingate Road area by Rona, in the Colorado Drive area and also someone said they saw her with another dog by the estuary behind the Quinsam Hotel.”

The year-and-a-half old American Staffordshire Terrier who was rescued from Texas has only been in Campbell River with his owners, Toporowski and Ashley Barney, for a couple of months.

“She did weigh about 75 pounds when she went missing. She is spayed and microchipped but the microchip will only identify where she comes from if she is at a vet’s office,” said Barney. “It does not track them.”

Hundreds of searchers have been out looking for Delilah and she has been posted on many social networking sites including “Lost and found animals of Campbell River” a Facebook group that people can join to inquire about their lost pets. This site has kept updated information on Delilah from day one.

“I hope it will end well,” said Toporowski, who is the head coach of the Campbell River Storm junior hockey team. “I mean she’s my dog, I have to stay optimistic.”

The owners ask that residents in the Twillingate and Colorado Drive area keep their eyes open for Delilah as well as around the estuary and where she initially was lost around the Canyon View Trail area.

They say it is possible someone has her, or perhaps she has found another dog to roam with. They would also like to thank everyone who has helped try to find Delilah including the professionals in the dog community.

Where, oh where (are you) Delilah?

They say everything is bigger in Texas, but not the search that is going on for a Texas-born Campbell River dog.

Delilah, the one-and-a-half year old American Staffordshire Terrier owned by Campbell River Storm head coach Ryan Toporowski and Ashley Barney went missing Nov. 21, and news of her situation has gone viral on social networking sights resulting in hundreds of people out looking for her.

The local couple got Delilah from a Texas breeder about two months ago. She had been returned to the breeder by her previous owners and there were indications that she was neglected.

“When we met her at the airport we were so excited that we just opened her cage up really fast and this scared her so much that she bolted through the airport,” said Barney. “When we finally caught her and put her in the truck she turned into a different dog. She totally calmed down, was very happy, and played by jumping back and forth on the two beds in the hotel room. But she had no training at all, she didn’t know how to sit or follow any commands you would expect of a year-and-a-half-old dog.”

Delilah went missing during a walk with a dog walker around the Canyon View Trail area. She slipped out of her collar and because she didn’t know the walker very well, she took off.

“We think she is burrowing because of all the rain but there have been four confirmed sightings of her,” said Barney. “The problem is people call her name and she is so frightened of people she doesn’t know that she runs the other way.”

Meanwhile, the response from Campbell Riverites has amazed the couple.

“We are overwhelmed by the response,” said Barney, as she cuddled one of her two other dogs, a very affectionate and vocal Boston Terrier, which is also a rescue dog.

Barney says Delilah loves to cuddle, shake a paw, play with the two other small dogs, and always had a toy in her mouth.

“She really broke out of her shell. It’s hard not to fall in love with her,” she said.

Barney worries that Delilah has gone back into a “wild” state. Searchers are asked to not call her name, not make eye contact, or touch her unless there’s a 100 percent chance of grabbing her pink collar. The couple says just to watch her, follow her, throw some treats out if she is close and call them at 250-203-3181, they will come.

Toporowski and Barney have also done stake outs with other volunteers.

“We have left food and blankets, favourite toys, and a pillow with Ryan’s scent on it in areas she has been spotted,” said Barney.

Searchers who go with their dogs in tow may be a strong lure because Delilah loves other dogs. She also loves treats and at this point will probably be very interested in food.

“We think she has been eating mushrooms because we have found several piles of vomit, so she is not doing really well in that regard,” said Barney.

She has been spotted by Lee’s Chicken on Willis Road, up by the old gun range, and most recently on Argonaut Road.

Annie: Lost and Not Found.

Annie, the nine-year-old border collie is still lost and the desperate family has turned to the help of psychics to find her.

Annie lives in Merville but went missing while visiting a Soderholm Road resident in Campbell River on New Year’s Eve, with her owner Katie White.

When a neighbour set off fireworks just as Annie was let outside, the dog was spooked and took off into the night.

“Two psychics said that Annie was with a family who had found her who live close to a school about five miles from where she was lost,” said White. “A young boy has bonded with her. She is really trying to get home but right now she is tired and resting at a home with very nice people. One of the readings said these people that have her are trying to find her owners.”

Also known as animal communicators, they provide information or “readings” over the phone, email or in person. In this case it was by phone.

White also had a third reading from another pet communicator on Monday who said Annie is hanging out around a boat or airplane storage with a concrete parking lot where people are coming and going.

“The area has trees on one side with a hill or incline,” said White. “The building is white (covered with plastic, vinyl or aluminum) and has a green/blue tinge. The area is not on the water, but close to a small creek or pond that has ducks or geese on it.”

But still the mystery continues.

“We have been looking everywhere and although there have been sightings, none of them have been confirmed to be her,” said White. “On Monday we had three sightings of a black dog between Nurmi/Williams Beach Road and the Merville store area. The dog has been seen crossing the highway. We have also been getting calls with possible sightings of a black dog along the highway in Oyster River. Keep on the lookout from York Road to Discovery Foods Plaza.”

There is a $500 reward for Annie’s safe return. You can call 250-897-0069 if you see Annie. White says to try to take a picture of the dog so her identity can be confirmed.

“We have been searching every day, as have many other countless people,” said White. “We are so thankful for all of their support. This is the silver lining in Annie’s disappearance, that so many people have offered their prayers, time, words of encouragement, equipment and knowledge. It brings tears of gratitude to my eyes when I think about how many people care about Annie and want her to come home to her family. I want to thank each and every person who has reached out and helped us.”

And the waiting has been taking its toll on the family. “My stepson, Jacob (13), misses her dearly,” said White. “He asks everyday if she has been found yet. It is heartbreaking to tell him that we haven’t located her yet.  Our home and hearts feel empty without the presence of Annie. She brings so much joy into our world and it hurts deeply to have her lost like this.”

(2 years later, Annie was never found)

sthomson@courierislander.com

Cat Dumper(s) Never Found

Some people are so incensed after two cats were found in a crate taped shut in the woods near Campbell River that they’ve put up a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever did it.

The seven-month-old cats found near Quinsam Crossing over the weekend are recovering after being near death. Both the SPCA and Van Isle Veterinary Hospital staff are optimistic they’ll recover over the next few months.

“Treatment is pretty straight forward from here,” said Dr. Mireille deWinter of VIVH. “They are in great spirits, very food motivated and happy to see people. I’m not sure how long they were left in the kennel but it doesn’t appear to have caused any fear of people so far. Hopefully they will make a full recovery.”

The female cats were found by a man and his dog while out hiking. The cats were inside a crate that had been sealed with packing tape, and judging by their conditions, they had been in there a while.

Their condition was so bad that it brought SPCA staff to tears.

Both cats weighed less than half a normal body weight and the smallest one, a ginger and white domestic short hair, was suffering from organ failure, likely through dehydration and starvation. The hospital was considering euthanasia for that one.

But on Tuesday morning, hospital staff told the Courier-Islander that after being offered small meals of calorie-dense diet throughout the weekend, the cat now has “normal values” on her blood tests and she is eating very well.

Because Campbell River does not have an SPCA, the man who found the cats took them to the Comox SPCA.

The SPCA immediately transported the cats to Van Isle Veterinary Clinic where they remained on intravenous medications and hydration. The black and white domestic short haired female cat weighed 1.75 kilograms and the orange and white domestic short haired female cat weighed

2.3 kilograms. The normal weight for a seven-monthold cat, estimated to be their age, should be around four kilograms according to a spokesperson from the Comox SPCA.

Leon Davis, a spokesperson for the Comox SPCA, said that they were not able to get any evidence from the crate because it had been out in the elements. The cats had no tattoos or microchips.

“This case will be solved by the public,” he said. “Does anyone remember a couple of cats being around a neighbouring home and suddenly not there? Does anyone recognize these two cats? Has anyone heard someone talking about leaving cats in the woods?” Leon said it is one thing to abandon cats out in the woods, to fend for themselves, it is another to trap them inside a crate, seal it with packing tape, and leave them to suffer an agonizing death.

“Those cats did not have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting out of there,” he said.

He said he hoped the cats were not abandoned because there is no SPCA in Campbell River.

“We are not that far away for people to bring their unwanted animals from Campbell River,” he said.

If and when found, the person(s) will face charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.

Penalties on convictions range from fines, not being allowed to own animals again, to jail time.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Comox SPCA at (250) 339-7722.

sthomson@courierislander.com

Cats left to die alone.

Two seven-month-old female cats were found clinging to life Saturday in Campbell River after being abandoned in the woods inside a crate sealed with packing tape.

A man was walking his dog on a logging road near Quinsam Crossing when the dog alerted him to the crate off the road. The cats, covered in their own urine and feces and suffering scratches from panicking and trying to claw their way out of the container, were taken by the man to the Comox SPCA.

The SPCA immediately transported the cats to Van Isle Veterinary Clinic where they remain on intravenous medications and hydration. The black and white domestic short haired female cat weighed 1.75 kilograms and the orange and white domestic short haired female cat weighed 2.3 kilograms. The normal weight for a seven-month-old cat, estimated to be their age, should be around four kilograms according to a spokesperson from the Comox SPCA.

The condition and obvious suffering the cats endured had some of the SPCA staff in tears.

“The black and white cat has severe organ impairment but she did start eating today,” said a SPCA spokesperson. “She is not out of the woods and they will re-test her blood on Wednesday. If there has been no improvement she will be humanely euthanized.”

Leon said that they were unable to get any evidence from the crate because it had been out in the elements. The cats had no identification on them, including no tattoos or microchips.

“This case will be solved by the public,” he said. “Does anyone remember a couple of cats being around a neighbouring home and suddenly not there? Does anyone recognize these two cats? Has anyone heard someone talking about leaving cats in the woods?”

The spokesperson said it is one thing to abandon cats out in the woods, to fend for themselves, it is another to trap them inside a crate, seal it with packing tape, and leave them to suffer an agonizing death.

“Those cats did not have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting out of there,” he said.

He said he hoped the cats were not abandoned because there is no SPCA in Campbell River.

“We are not that far away for people to bring their unwanted animals from Campbell River,” he said.

If and when found, the person(s) will face charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Criminal Code of Canada. Penalties on convictions range from fines, not being allowed to own animals again, to jail time.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Comox SPCA at (250) 339-7722.

sthomson@courierislander.com

Rock the Dogs

What goes up must come down, and that is just what Maggie Tyerman-Norbjerg did on Sunday at 2 p.m., 24 hours after she climbed up on the Big Rock in Campbell River.

But what kept going up was the total funds raised for the Rock the Dogs fund raiser. The final total pending any mail in donations is $4,096.25, four times her goal of $1000.

Tyerman-Norbjerg was symbolically representing the experience of the “Reef Babies”, Jonah and Isaac, two dogs found stranded on a reef off the shores of Kyuquot two weeks ago. The RCMP admitted the dogs had been “relocated” after a young girl in that community was attacked by dogs.

“They pose a risk to the public and cannot go home,” said Corporal Darren Lagan, RCMP Communications. “They need to be put down and not be in the company of humans. If the dogs are somewhat feral we relocate them and let them fend for themselves but we are quite rightly justified to euthanize dangerous dogs on the spot with our firearm. People have to put this situation in the context of where we are located. Kids here (in Kyuquot) play in the street, the street is their home. With the feral dog population, wildlife come to the community because they see the dogs as a food source. We have to protect the village kids and as long as the dogs keep multiplying it will continue to get worse.”

There remains the question as to how the dogs got out on to the reef. The police said the dogs were dropped off on the beach. Their rescuers believe the dogs were not capable of, or inclined to, swim out to the reef in the freezing water.

After providing veterinary care to the two dogs, including neutering, they will be professionally assessed for temperament.

“Since the RCMP have identified them as dangerous dogs, I cannot foster them out or adopt them until the professional assessment is done to clear them,” said Tyerman-Norbjerg.

“And in addition to the attention given to Noah and Isaac, let’s not forget there was a little girl who was injured and traumatized by a pack of dogs wandering the streets there. We must send our blessings to her and her family, and also we must work to find a way to help this community address the dog problem there. We need a rescue program to get the dogs out and a spay and neuter program to go in there and help control the increase of street dogs and feral dogs because puppies are having puppies, and it is out of control.”

Although the view was amazing, she has never been so cold in her life, Tyerman-Norbjerg said of her vigil atop the Big Rock.

“I can’t even imagine what Isaac and Jonah experienced. I lost feeling in my hands and feet several hours into it,” she said.

Tyerman-Norbjerg wants to thank the people and the businesses who made this possible, by donating their time, talent, items needed for the event, prizes and gift certificates for the raffle. The local businesses are; Campbell River Pet Centre, Play’n Trade, Splash Body Care, Wei Wai Kum House of Treasures, Go Dog Go, Dogwood Petmart, Tim Hortons, Woofys, True Blue Pet Supplies, Hair Squared and Coastland Veterinary.

“I would also like to offer a very huge thank you to Dr. Jim Proctor who, over the past couple of years has worked with Eleasha, Rob and I in providing vet care for the many animals we have brought to him,” said  Tyerman-Norbjerg. “Going so far as doing surgery at 11:30 at night for an animal in need. This man is amazing, I am truly blessed to have his and his wife’s Carole’s friendship.”

The volunteers for the event were Brittany Hazlett, Dawn Mills, Eleasha Chidley, Elaine Mills, Nikki Watts, Claude Jacques, Bob Watts, Emma Thomson, Rhonda and Melyssa Wykes and Dave Smith.

“Without this group of people, Rock the Dogs wouldn’t have been the success that it was,” said Tyerman-Norbjerg. “I’d like to give a special thank you to Kevin Weatherall for bringing dinner for all of us and for the dogs. And to Ella Nicolaye for making numerous trips to ensure that I was kept warm. The heated seat and multiple packages of hand warmers she brought played a key role in keeping me from completely freezing. “

If people want to donate to the Rock the Dogs fund, which will continue to help rescued dogs and hopefully the dogs of Kyuquot, contact Maggie at K-9 Designs 250-287-3033.

sthomson@courierislander.com