A dog on the run has finally been rescued after three heroic women spent 15 weeks tracking her down – using spy cameras, night goggles and a make-shift trap filled with meatballs.
Shelly Spiller, 32, Amanda James, 42, and Hazel Richards, 52, spent nights camping into the early hours in a desperate bid to find Bosnian rescue dog Zena.
The trio run a Facebook page called Bristol and Somerset Missing Dogs and were notified of the puppy’s disappearance in April.
Shelly Spiller, 32, Amanda James, 42, and Hazel Richards, 52, spent nights camping into the early hours in a desperate bid to find Bosnian rescue dog Zena (seen right approaching one of the traps)
After bolting through an open door at her new rescue home in Bristol, the terrier-cross wandered around the city before settling in Blaise Castle Park.
There were several confirmed sightings of the two-year-old pooch, and the women distributed posters and set up night patrols in the park armed with meaty treats.
They had to fend off teenagers, drunks and foxes during their night shifts, which sometimes went on until 3am.
When a month passed without success, they started a GoFundMe page to raise £500 to buy a wildlife camera and chipped in a couple of hundred pounds of their own money towards night-vision goggles.
But after nearly four months on the run, Zena was finally captured after being enticed into the cage with a banquet of liver and garlic sausage, butcher’s tripe, Swedish meatballs and biscuits on Monday evening.
The troublesome mutt is now residing at a local animal rescue centre where she will remain until she is ready to be fostered again
When a month passed without success, they started a GoFundMe page to raise £500 to buy a wildlife camera and chipped in a couple of hundred pounds of their own money towards night-vision goggles. Pictured is some of the footage
The troublesome mutt is now residing at a local animal rescue centre where she will remain until she is ready to be fostered again.
Ms Spiller said: ‘I just can’t believe we actually managed to catch her. But we wouldn’t have stopped until we did.
‘Because she is a rescue dog her first instinct was to bolt off. She had only been with her new foster family for two weeks.
Shelly Spiller with the dog after it was finally captured
‘We all work during the day so we’d have our dinner and meet up in the evening.’
The women received several pictures of Zena walking in the park near the River Avon, so started setting up a disposable BBQ there every night.
‘When we first started looking it was during the summer so there would be people hanging around the park being loud, which spooked her,’ Ms Spiller said.
‘That happened for a few weeks which was really frustrating. But we still stayed out just in case we spotted her.
‘The key was being as quiet as possible. At the beginning we were out there until 2.30am to 3am in the morning.
‘But once we got the cameras installed we were able to watch the trap from one of our houses, as we live nearby.
‘Sometimes we would have to do another late night as the WiFi router would run out. We had to keep topping that up every three or four days.’
The trio (left) went out on regular patrols. On the right is some of the grainy footage of the escaped mutt in the park
They set up the first trap but found it was too small for her to enter, but made it longer after several weeks of testing.
Ms Spiller said: ‘We soon realised she wasn’t a fan of things like fish, tuna, mackerel or anything fishy really.
‘So we switched it to meats and fresh wet food. It was quite expensive in the end. We must have spent about £500 which came out of our own pocket.’
Eventually the dog strolled into one of the traps.
‘We were just behind the bushes when she was finally caught,’ Ms Spiller said.
The women set up the first trap but found it was too small for her to enter, but made it longer after several weeks of testing
‘It was basically a banquet in there. There was liver sausage, garlic sausage, butcher’s tripe, Swedish meatballs, chicken meatballs and biscuits.
‘As soon as the door was released we crept over as we didn’t know if she was 100 per cent in there.’
After successfully catching Zena, the trio carried the cage into a car before reuniting her with foster owner Denise on Monday evening.
The pooch has now returned to a local animal rescue home in the hope of building her confidence before she finds a long-term home.
Ms Shelly added: ‘She’s very nervous around people so it was probably too early for her to be fostered.
‘There are going to be people who will say why did you spend months searching for her when she had only been with her foster family for two weeks but I just think animals shouldn’t be dismissed.
‘She came to England for a better life. It was just for the love of animals. In our eyes every animal deserves to be warm, fed and comfortable.
‘We treated ourselves to a well-deserved pint afterwards but tomorrow we’ll be onto the next one.’