On Monday, March 4, Sandy, an 8-year-old beagle was missing for seven hours while Gulfport bikers, dog-walkers, students and neighbors scoured the downtown area for her.
But this wasn’t the first time.
The beagle was adopted by Susan Sommers at the annual Get Rescued event in downtown Gulfport on Saturday, February 23.
Since her Saturday morning adoption, Sandy escaped and was found twice by Sommers’ neighbors.
“We originally had said, ‘Don’t worry about Sandy, she just lays there in a blanket,’ but I guess she likes to wander off,” said Kimmy Chandler, the founder of FLUFF Animal Rescue, which is based in Seminole, the group that brought Sandy to Get Rescued.
Sandy was surrendered at the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter, which Chandler described as a “high-kill facility,” before she was brought to the Gulfport area.
On Sunday, February 25, a day after Sommers brought her new pet back to her Gulfport home, the rescue pup found a weak spot in the fence and dug a hole out of the yard.
Sommers turned her back for a second, she said, and the little brown beagle was gone.
Shortly after, a neighbor saw her wandering along Dupont Street. Sommers thought that was the end of their problems.
Takes a Village
On March 4, Marilyn Sheffield, a resident of Town Shores of Gulfport did not think her Monday would be taken up watching an elderly beagle and traveling to Gulfport Veterinarian in an attempt to locate the owner.
Once again, nine days after her Sunday, February 25 escape, a hole in the fence was culprit.
Sheffield, who found the dog wandering around Town Shores condominium complex at 5955 30th Ave. S., brought the dog to the vet in hopes that a microchip would explain things.
The chip was linked to a Miami address.
“We didn’t change the microchip from her old owners to her new owner right away,” Chandler explained. “This is really a lesson, because microchips and tracking are so important.”
While Sheffield was trying to understand where the tiny dog came from, Sommers was alerting her neighbors and friends that Sandy had once again escaped. It didn’t take long before a group of volunteers began searching for Sandy.
“I was running around, telling everyone on the street and everyone I knew about it,” Sommers said.
It wasn’t until about 8 p.m., when Sommers’ neighbor Lynn Jasmin posted a Facebook status reading, “My neighbor, Sue’s new dog found a way out of her fenced yard today and is lost in Gulfport. Her name is Sandy and is an old chubby beagle. Keep an eye out for her, please.”
Through a series of online messages, the two were reunited.
“This is truly the story of all the big-hearted people in Gulfport,” Sheffield said. “An army tried to get that dog back home.”
An updated microchip and a new collar – and perhaps a few patched fence holes – should prevent another neighborhood search party, Sommers hopes.
“I would really like to say thank you to everyone that helped,” Sommers said. “It was so stressful, losing a pet is like losing a baby.”