New Jersey resident Kim Gregg is receiving an outpouring of help from Alexandria and Route 1 corridor communities after her dog, Houdini, went missing weeks ago.
Houdini, an Australian shepherd, was staying with a family in Del Ray during a trial period while the family was considering adopting him. The family owned a dog of the same breed, which they adopted from Gregg about 10 years ago. After that dog died of cancer last December, the family was interested in adopting a similar dog.
The family picked up Houdini on Sept. 11, and only hours later, the 3-year-old dog slipped out of the family's home. Houdini is accustomed to open space having spent most of his life in Dorothy, N.J., Gregg said. The busy streets may have been a part of what scared him off when he ran out of the house.
"The biggest thing is, I think he's really scared. The traffic is scary for him and there's no open space which is what he's used to," Gregg said.
When Gregg put out the word that she and the family were looking for Houdini, Alexandria resident Lisa Friel jumped at the opportunity to lend a hand. And as Friel got the word out, dog owners and dog lovers in surrounding areas began making an effort to bring Houdini home safely.
"This was an innocent situation. It could happen to anyone," Friel said. "We have about 45 people on the committee to search and everyone is invited to help out."
Houdini has been seen E. Monroe Avenue, Masonic Temple, Beverley Hills, Belle Haven and at Jones Point Park. The most recent sighting was on Oct. 8, Friel said. The search committee is focusing on areas where community members have seen Houdini.
"When we get a sighting we drop everything and try to get there," Friel said. "The experts said, 'Think like a dog who is used to the country area and has been moved to a big city.' We're asking people who see him in their area to call us immediately. Don't attempt to call him or catch him yourself because it will only scare him away."
Friel has had great help from the community as well as Alexandria Animal Control. She’s also spreading the word by handing out flyers in the community. The search committee will be at the 2013 Alexandria Shelter Walk for Homeless Animals on Sunday to pass out more flyers.
"I can't tell you how great that whole city has been since this happened. They have been very generous," Gregg said.
The search committee has also started a Facebook page where they post information about sightings of Houdini. They also take suggestions on how to get the word out about finding Houdini.
Gregg said if the family is still interested, she wouldn't mind them adopting Houdini. However, it may take a while for him to be more like himself again. Gregg said she is willing to take him back home to New Jersey to get used to life as a house pet again before he is adopted.
Houdini is currently in survival mode, Friel said, and community members are asked to give them a call if they see Houdini or if they notice things like missing pet food. Because he is running and hiding in unfamiliar territory, people who see him in their areas are asked to immediately call 609-805-1413 and/or 703-618-1998 to report the location.