Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Katelyn Stiles • Contributing Writer
Ellie, a retriever mix, was discovered missing by Big Dog Rescue Project kennel attendant Kris Sarver on Oct. 25. Sarver found that Ellie’s kennel door was left wide open and her kennel lock was broken. Sarver immediately contacted manager Landon Koller. Koller says she confirmed to Sarver that Ellie was not at the vet and had not yet left for her new home.
The morning attendant, Sarah Smith, was logged at the kennel until 2 p.m., according to Koller. Smith was assisted by a local probationer and volunteer, who will remain nameless.
Upon further inspection of the kennels Starver and Koller say they realized that about half of the kennel locks were not secured. Smith confirmed that she allowed the volunteer to lock the kennel doors. After calling all of the local vets, shelters and filing a police report, Ellie was still missing.
“It had been hours and she could have been anywhere” said Koller.
A $500 reward was posted on the rescue’s Facebook page that night. The next morning the staff received a phone call. The volunteer who had worked with Smith the day Ellie was stolen claimed that she found Ellie running around her Lindale neighborhood, according to Koller.
The volunteer in question and her boyfriend had mentioned several times how much they wished they could take Ellie home. When they brought Ellie back, the volunteer probationer mentioned the reward.
“Thank you very much," Koller said she told the volunteer. "The reward is being held at the police station where we filed the report."
No attempt to claim said reward has been made. Since the incident, the volunteer's probation officer has been contacted, and she has been banned from Big Dog Rescue Project.
Ellie retuned to the rescue completely happy and unharmed according to Koller. On Nov. 5 Ellie left the kennel and other volunteers transported her to her new forever home in New Jersey.
“By retrieving Ellie, BDRP was able to save her not once but twice," Koller said. "It was truly a miracle to send her to where she was finally destined to be."
Big Dog Rescue Projects welcomes all types of volunteers. Often, select probationers volunteer to reach their required community service hours. Volunteers help walk the dogs, supervise play time, do kennel repairs and clean the kennel.
If you’re looking to foster or volunteer for a service project, BDRP can always use the help. Email BDRPinfo@gmail.com for more information.