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Lost dog search group marshals Roseville community to find Shyanne
The signs dot eastern Roseville and make their way into Little Canada. Many are printed on safety-green construction paper and read, "Lost dog. Brown lab. Do not chase or whistle."
There were enough of them for long enough along Dale Street to prompt Roseville resident Roger Toogood to call the Review.
"I've never seen anything like it," Toogood said. "It must be some kind of dog."
A 4-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever named Shyanne is responsible for all the signs, explained Natalie Wicker, a case worker for The Retrievers, a Minneapolis-based non-profit volunteer organization that helps find lost dogs.
"Shyanne ... was spooked and pulled out of her collar in the early morning hours on Oct. 7 while she was being dog sat in Roseville," Wicker said, adding that the dog lives in Stacy, Minnesota, some 35 miles north of where she was lost.
"She is skittish and scared of people she doesn't know," Wicker added, explaining the sign's exhortation to neither chase nor whistle at Shyanne.
Wicker said the dog's owner contacted The Retrievers shortly after she went missing, but for personal reasons couldn't keep up the search, which is now being continued by the lost dog search group.
"We created Shyanne's Facebook page as a means to spread awareness," Wicker said of the page, which has more than 200 likes. "This is where a couple volunteers offered their assistance and since then more volunteers have been added to formulate 'Team Shy.'"
Finding people, finding dogs
The Retrievers came about in the spring of 2014, said one of its co-founders, Devon Thomas Treadwell, as an offshoot of Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota, a similar organization that would search for missing foster dogs and those that were recently adopted.
That group also works to raise awareness about loss prevention, and was successful in doing so.
"Soon we were having fewer lost dogs and more expertise," Thomas Treadwell said of what prompted the formation of The Retrievers, whose mission would be to help any owner and any dog.
Thomas Treadwell explained that owners of lost dogs can contact The Retrievers for help through the organization's website. There, they fill out what she termed as a "fairly lengthy" information form that gets the dog searchers up to speed on the situation.
From there, The Retrievers provide a written action plan on the site.
"[Owners] can instantly walk away from the computer to start doing things that can help them find their dog," Thomas Treadwell said.
The most important part of the search, said Thomas Treadwell, is getting the word out.
"Most dogs are recovered because of awareness," she said. "It's not about finding the dog but finding the person."
Thomas Treadwell said she knows of organizations similar to The Retrievers. "There are burgeoning groups — I think this is still a fairly new phenomenon."
"Prevention is the best medicine here," Thomas Treadwell added, noting that folks should make sure their dogs wear up-to-date identification.
She also said owners should microchip their dog, which is a process where a chip with ID information is implanted into the dog's back.
Above all, Thomas Treadwell said, anxious dogs are liable to go missing, so owners should take extra precautions if they just moved, or recently adopted a dog.
"Anytime a dog is in transition," she said, "they are vulnerable because they are anxious. ... Take extra care for the first two or three weeks."
'It takes a village'
Even with Shyanne missing for the last two months, her Facebook page is buzzing with reports of recent sightings and folks lining up to help.
The most recent update, dated Dec. 16, describes a possible sighting of Shyanne in North Oaks.
"This sounds like a promising lead and we are following up with the homeowner," the post reads. "She spotted a hungry and scared looking chocolate lab. She was able to leave some food out. All the food was gone in the next day."
"Please share with your [North Oaks] friends and ask if we can put a sign in their yards," it concludes.
People have shared it — 26 times in just more than 24 hours — and the post is collecting enthusiastic comments with offers to place those yard signs and prayers to find Shyanne before it gets colder.
Wicker described the search for Shyanne as a community effort, saying The Retrievers will rely on tips from "good Samaritans" to hopefully nail down Shyanne's location and eventually coax the skittish dog into a live trap.
"It truly takes a village to bring a lost dog home," she said.