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Airdrie search party rallies together to find missing dog

Airdrie residents were quick to join a search party after a local lost and found Facebook page indicated Calgarian Michelle Russell’s one-year-old pup had gotten lost in the city.

Airdrie residents were quick to join a search party after a local lost and found Facebook page indicated Calgarian Michelle Russell’s one-year-old pup had gotten lost in the city.

Thankfully, the search culminated in a happy ending.

According to Russell, her roommate had taken her dog Koda for a ride to Airdrie on Feb. 11 to pick up his son. As the dog is a rescue with a harsh past, Russell said he is still very skittish. During the trip, Koda was able to get out of his collar and took off in the Cooper’s Landing area of Airdrie.

“I saw that I had a missed call from my roommate [and] I just got a bad feeling immediately,” Russell said.

As she was at work during the time her dog ran away, Russell said she was filled with fear when she heard the news. Before rescuing Koda in November 2020, she said she had owned another pet who was killed by a neighbour’s dog.

“I didn’t want to lose another dog,” she said. “Losing my first dog almost killed me.”

After getting off work, Russell, her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend immediately drove to Airdrie to take part in the search. She said her roommate had posted about Koda in the Airdrie Lost and Found Pets Facebook page, and the post began gaining traction.

By the time Russell arrived in Airdrie around 5 p.m., she said she noticed several people who had joined in the impromptu search throughout the city’s southern neighbourhoods.

“They were all looking for my dog,” she said. “As the day progressed, you couldn’t go past a car without them rolling down their window and giving you updates.”

The search was made even more difficult as temperatures were below -20 C, when Airdrie was still in the grips of an extreme cold snap.

Given the adverse conditions, Russell said she couldn’t believe how many people came out to assist in the search for Koda.

“It was like the entire city of Airdrie came to look for my dog,” she said. “It was beautiful, I cried so hard that day. I cried because I was sad and worried, but I cried a lot because I was just moved by what the people were doing for us and our dog.”

After the search started on Feb. 11, Russell said Koda was finally found the next morning at 9:32 a.m., curled up against the side of a house. According to Russell, the pup had been outside for approximately 16 hours.

Now reunited with her pet, Russell said she is incredibly grateful for the many Airdrie residents who became involved in the search.

“These people helped us, but it was more than that,” she said. “They restored faith for all of us – not just me and my family, but for the people in Airdrie who were looking.”

Thankfully, Russell said Koda did not suffer from frostbite and hypothermia while he was lost, and he was even given a clean bill of health after a visit to an emergency pet hospital.

Airdrie’s deputy mayor Tina Petrow even got involved with the search, and was posting updates on the situation to social media throughout the ordeal. She said having a puppy herself made it an easy choice to get outside for four hours and help search.

“If it had been my dog, I would have gladly accepted the help,” she said. “Community spirit always exists in Airdrie. This just brought it out. We have gone through quite a time of division and negativity over the last year, [but] this just brought out the humanity in everyone.

“Sometimes it takes an opportunity for people to show that community spirit and humanity.”

Even for people who couldn’t join the search, Russell said people were offering help in the form of gas money, food and hotel accommodations to make things easier for her and the rest of the search party.

“It was incredible,” she said. “There was so much love that came out that day while things are so rotten in the world. It made everybody feel incredible.”

Jordan Stricker,
Follow me on Twitter @Jay_Strickz