Annie ate out of garbage bins, sometimes sharing her food with raccoons, slept on a porch and ran from everyone who tried to talk to her.
After 2½ months without a stable source of food or water, Annie the Welsh Corgi is back with the family she knows.
Annie, with the help of a Davenport man, was captured by a member of the Quad-Cities Animal Recovery Team.
Annie went missing from her new adopter/owner Karen Kelly on July 6 as soon as she arrived at her new home in Davenport from a Chicago suburb.
Karen Kelly, of Davenport, had a dog named Cricket, a rescued Corgi, for 10 years. After the dog’s death, Kelly considered getting another dog, and learned about a couple in Orland Park whose Corgi, Annie, did not get along with their other dogs.
“It was kind of a quick decision,” said Kelly, who drove to Orland Park to pick up the dog and drive Annie to her new home.
Annie, wearing a loose harness, broke away from Kelly after they arrived at Kelly’s central Davenport home.
A neighbor caught the dog and walked her back to Kelly. “I kind of bent down to her and she got out of her harness,” Kelly remembers.
Annie took off.
“You know how a scared dog looks. It was the most heartbreaking thing I’d ever seen,” said Kelly, who realized Annie had no scent trail and no family to connect her to the area. “She had never been out of her yard. Now here she was, three hours away, running for her life.”
A frantic search
Kelly was frantic. A friend helped her post about Annie’s disappearance on www.nextdoor.com, a social medium that allows people to read posts of neighbors.
“I am not exaggerating: People I did not know were coming up on bikes, people I’d never met came from blocks away, and contacted me on the app.”
Then the situation went from sad to sadder, Kelly said. “People were seeing her run up and down the street in the middle of the night.”
One night, Kelly even saw the dog herself. “Of course she didn’t know me. I saw her coming out of the woods.”
Kelly went to every animal shelter in the Quad-Cities with the hope someone found Annie and took her there.
King's Harvest Animal Rescue, Davenport, connected Kelly with the Quad-Cities Animal Recovery Team, and team member Emily Baker, of Davenport, took on the case.
Annie was spotted the first couple of nights after she went missing, running around the neighborhood by the bike path and Grand Avenue around 3 a.m.
She was spotted at 3:24 a.m. July 9 along the east side of Brady Street and Kimberly Road in Davenport. From there, sightings continued here and there from the west end of Davenport to the Devils Glen-area bike path in Bettendorf. “We believe she was following that path,” Baker said.
The search continues
People reported seeing Annie eating out of garbage bins.
“She lived outdoors hunkered down in hiding spots with strong storms, horrible heat waves, dodging several cars and possibilities of larger predators,” Baker said.
Baker diligently tracked Annie’s movements: Kimberly Road, Brady Street, Kirkwood Boulevard, LeClaire Street. One woman took a video of Annie and fed the dog for a couple of days.
“She wouldn’t stop moving,” Kelly said. “At one point there was a tip on a dog in the park on Devils Glen. I totally believe it was her.”
Kelly, Baker and recovery team member Laura Bender spent some time passing out and posting fliers with Annie's picture on them.
On Aug. 28, Kelly received a call from Joshua Kahn, who saw Annie resting on his back porch three nights in a row. He had seen a flier in the area of West 13th Street and Scott streets and recognized the dog.
“I called Josh and asked him if he would be willing to put food down, allow me to put up trail cams, and have permission to trap when the time came. He agreed,” Baker said.
“It was then that the recovery efforts became very quiet, as we did not want her to leave the area and be scared off,” Baker said. “After he put down the very first bowl of food on his back deck, she changed her pattern, but she did come back.”
If it rained or stormed, Annie would miss a night, but she always returned to Kahn's porch.
Baker chained a dog trap to Kahn’s deck, using bungee cords to keep the trap doors open. In the meantime, Kahn moved the food closer and closer to the trap and eventually inside the trap, so Annie became used to it.
Trail cams were checked daily to figure out her time pattern. “She shared the food with five or six raccoons and three neighborhood cats that would come by for a snack,” Baker said.
Kelly became discouraged, but Baker was like a one-woman cheer-leading squad, said Kelly, who put up posters in areas where Annie was sighted.
Pouring rain on Sunday, Sept. 15, threw off Annie’s schedule.
On Monday, Sept. 16, Baker zip-tied four raccoon traps open. “I fed the circus of critters hard-boiled eggs and goodies around Josh's deck to keep them preoccupied and out of the big dog trap and stopped for a fresh double cheeseburger from McDonald's to make a trail for Annie into the trap.”
Baker checked the trail cam about 1:30 a.m. and saw Annie had shown up looking for food around 12:30 a.m. Baker was certain the little dog would return.
Sure enough, around 2:30 a.m., Anne was doing circles in Kahn’s yard. “She wanted to trust that food would be there again,” Baker said.
This time, the dog went right into the set trap, and at 2:38 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16, Annie was trapped.
Baker let the little dog decompress a bit before Baker approached the trap.
Annie barked and appeared panicked until Baker called her name and sat down beside her, talking quietly.
“From there, she looked relieved and would take treats from my hand,” Baker said.
“Honestly, I didn’t have any sense of strategy, I didn’t know the dog," Kelly said. "The rescue was because of tips. It was people being kind. It was Emily’s advice.”
Annie is back in the Chicago-land area now with members of the family who originally owned her. She recognized the couple's adult son and his girlfriend, Kelly said.
"When I saw them and reunited her with them, I felt like that’s where she should be.”
"For sure, teamwork was the key," Baker said. "If it wasn't for the helpful people who called in sightings, Karen and her friends, Josh Kahn and our team, we would not have been able to bring Annie home as successfully as we did."