The dog that bolted for freedom after arriving at Green Airport from Florida on the night of Friday, Nov. 13 has been reunited with his traveling canine partner thanks to an observant postman, a cooperative homeowner and a master tracker with two tracking dogs of his own.
“They are two wonderful people,” Toni-Ann Hanna said Wednesday morning of Postman Charlie Jubinville and Don Debeaulieu, who lives on Blackburn Street not far from Jefferson Boulevard.
Hanna mounted a campaign to find Socks, a lab and golden retriever mix soon after the dog slipped loose while being transferred from his traveling crate to a car at air cargo facilities at Green Airport. She posted flyers in neighborhoods surrounding the airport, put out a call for help on social media, visited area animal shelters and recruited as many volunteers as possible. Two people who Hanna is especially thankful of are Sheilah Graham and Shannon who helped search and get out posters.
It all started when Hanna, who lives in West Greenwich, and her boyfriend agreed to care for the two dogs while a family member and their owner went through six months of basic training with the U.S. Coast Guard. When the dogs arrived, they were able to get Summer, also a lab and golden retriever mix, in one vehicle without removing her from her crate. The crate with Socks, however, was too big to get into the second car. As they tried to get him in the car, a frightened Socks made his escape.
On Tuesday Jubinville glanced at the Beacon before making his round and read a portion of the front page story about Socks. Last Saturday Jubinville spotted a dog on Kilvert Street. As it ran across the street, a car brushed it. He went to look for the dog, but it had run off.
He didn’t make the connection to Socks until he stopped to chat with Debeaulieu, who asked whether he was aware of a lost dog. Jubinville showed Debeaulieu a copy of the Beacon and he said that was the dog. Jubinville then called Hanna.
Meanwhile, Hanna contacted Jamie Genereux, owner of Pack Leader Pet Trackers in Cumberland, to help find Socks. With the scent from the crate that had carried Socks, Genereux’s two back labs circled the airport and picked up his trail near Warwick Pond and further to the south along Buckeye Brook. Genereux said a dog could easily cover 10 miles a day within an established area and thought Socks was crossing back and forth from property around the airport. Hanna and Genereux were searching an area near Confreda Fields on Bend Street when she got Jubinville’s call.
Genereux’s dogs confirmed Socks was in the area of Blackburn Street.
Hanna and Genereux connected with Debeaulieu, who reported a dog had spent the past four nights under his porch. The description fit Socks.
Genereux, who was trained in the search and rescue of humans and was a member of Rhode Island Canine Search and Rescue, started his business about five years ago when he realized the same practices could be applied to finding lost pets. His job has taken him on pet rescue missions across the country.
Genereux placed motion-activated cameras in the vicinity of the house on Blackburn Street. At about 8 p.m. Tuesday, the camera recorded a picture of Socks as he was approaching food that had been placed out for him. Genereux then set up a crate with food inside it. At about 2 a.m. Wednesday, Socks returned and once inside the crate triggered a door securing him in the crate. A camera recorded the scene and texted Genereux the picture.
Hanna said when she arrived, Socks was barking, but as soon as he saw he had company he quieted down.
“He knew it was us. He was so happy, he was crying,” she said.
The next step was to reunite Socks with Summer. When Hanna and her boyfriend arrived at their apartment, Summer was closed in a room. Socks knew she was there and ran through the apartment sniffing. When they brought the dogs together, there was a moment of apprehension, a lot of sniffing and then, said Hanna, “he wouldn’t leave her side.”
Wednesday morning Hanna brought Socks to a veterinarian to be checked out. She reported that he is in good condition.
Hanna was thrilled by the outcome and appreciative of all the support she received from so many. Her next challenge is to get a message to Socks’ owner and let him know that Socks is home, albeit an interim home for the next six months. That should be easy compared to what she and Socks have gone through.