Vashon Island Pet Protectors (VIPP) continues to lead efforts to safely recover a lost dog who escaped from his owner in December, but bringing him home is proving to be a daunting task.
Henry, a 4-year-old Australian shepherd-sheltie mix, was rescued from a hoarding situation in California last March. Skittish and unsocialized, he jumped from the car of islander Karin Debelius not long after he entered her care. Volunteers have since been unable to humanely trap him, but Amy Carey of VIPP said that no one else is better suited for the job.
“What it is we’re working through is a tried and true process,” she said.
That process includes stakeouts for Henry as teams of volunteers keep vigilant through all hours of the night in locations the dog is routinely seen.
“We have experience,” she said, emphasizing that it is important islanders do not try to call him or feed him. “It’s just key that the only place there is a food source [for Henry] is where we’re putting it. And at this point, it’s at the traps.”
Trapping stations are set up on the island, including at the north end, where a large custom-welded trap has been set up near the ferry dock for weeks. Nearby, sitting in cold parked cars, volunteers wait to capture Henry, hoping to entice him with bits of fresh chicken, bacon or sausage left in the trap, which they would close with a rope. He has approached the traps before.
Carey said that Henry is often in the road and she cautioned motorists coming off of the ferry, or driving anywhere on the island, to stay alert for him. VIPP posted warnings on sandwich boards, but Carey said they were later found thrown in ditches.
“It’s really unfortunate that there’s a couple people who would do something like that and put people at risk,” she said.
Describing Henry as whip-smart, Carey said that by all observations, the dog still appears to be in relatively good health.
“So far, so good for what he’s going through,” she said. “He’s not emaciated, he’s not starving to death. Dogs like him, they don’t starve to death.”
Islander Ena Reynen, a volunteer who is helping VIPP track down Henry, said that she first learned about his escape from a flier that Debelius had left on her doorstep in the north end. A dog lover who owns two rescues, she offered to help keep watch and saw Henry for the first time from her car on Christmas Eve.
“I saw the real Henry,” she said, “and I got hooked. Once you see him, you kind of get hooked.”
Reynen said she enlisted the help of her husband Peter to assist in the ongoing search, and she said in addition to their careers, they each devote at least 10 hours each week to finding him, stocking food traps and monitoring patiently from the car between 1 and 5 a.m.
“If it takes this, this is what it takes,” said Reynen.
She noted that Henry is most active between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and he is often seen traveling along the highway in the block of 103rd Ave. and 112th Street, but he is known to go as far as town or beyond.
Reynen said she won’t stop until Henry is reunited with Debelius, and that through it all, she believes that with love, the dog will be rehabilitated once captured.
“Now that I have her in my heart and Henry in my heart, I’m determined to help him get to safety,” she said.
To report a sighting of Henry, call VIPP at 206-389-1085 or call the lost and found cell at 206-755-3981.