- Editor’s Note: We don’t usually often publish unsolicited feature stories on Kane County Connects, but here’s a nice one submitted by MaryFrances Madonio of Pingree Grove about how a neighborhood came together during the recent cold spate to find a lost dog. Enjoy.
On Monday, Jan. 28, as many Kane County residents pulled out their coziest blankets and hunkered down for another frigid night, Pingree Grove residents pulled together and braved the elements for one common goal: to find Fred.
Word began to spread at 8:45 a.m. via the community Facebook page, and within moments, the image of Fred’s cute floppy ears and pensive expression captured the heart of this close-knit community. The beagle/hound mix rescue dog, who had just joined the Crowley family one day prior, had bolted out the door and disappeared into the snow covered expanses of Cambridge Lakes.
The Crowley family worried for their new pet, who was not yet responsive to his new name. He could be hiding in someone’s back yard or roaming through the nearby wooded areas – and the snow only made matters worse.
As temperatures continued to decrease toward a record low, Fred’s vulnerability increased with every passing moment. And there were other hazards to consider. Would he find himself frozen in terror, face to face with the blaring lights of an oncoming train or the sharp teeth of a hungry coyote?
No, not on Pingree Grove’s watch.
Pingree Grove Community Network Facebook Page administrator Adam Hagg said co-administrator Adam Hogan pinned the notice to the top of the page to attract more immediate attention — and that it did.
At 8:48 a.m., one resident posted that she left her garage door open and put out some food. At 8:54, numerous reports of Fred near the pond and forest preserve sparked hope for a speedy rescue. But Fred’s a quick one – he sped off into the forest preserve near the train tracks before anyone could catch up to him.
By 9:11, other local Facebook groups had received the missing dog notice from concerned residents. Resident Chris Ray posted a reminder of a Facebook page he had started for lost local pets.
By 9:30, people all over the neighborhood were setting out food, searching on foot or by car, advising on strategy, and even offering foot warmers and snacks for the growing search party. Some watched from their windows and gave live reports – complete with detailed maps tracking all the areas where Fred had been spotted.
Even kids, who were off school for a snow day, lent a hand. The Facebook thread became the nerve center for the search party comprised of friends and unknown neighbors who would not rest until Fred was found.
When daylight faded, hope did not. Undeterred, the search party boosted their efforts with shop lights, night vision glasses, and thermal cameras. The last post came in at 2 a.m.
And although Fred had kept everyone on their toes all day, he had outrun them all. Before bed, prayers for Fred’s safe return echoed throughout the community.
Then at 4:49 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, Shonda Crowley posted the words everyone was waiting to hear: Fred, content with his thorough exploration, had showed up nearby at the home of his former temporary foster family!
Rather than being found, he found home when he was good and ready. After all, he’s the new guy in town.
Apparently, he needed to get a lay of the land and fill his sweet little nose with all the glorious smells of Pingree Grove. He’s a smart one, too — he managed to keep out of danger, and did not suffer any significant ill effects from 20 hours of extreme cold exposure.
But what Fred probably doesn’t know is that his journey resulted in more than just his safe return.
“I was just out and saw so many people out looking, its truly heartwarming so many people in our community are willing to help,” posted resident and search party participant Jen Rodriguez.
“… The amount people from the community that came out from all subdivisions was amazing,” posted Gina Dodaro, also a resident and fellow searcher. “It takes an army sometimes. Whether or not it scared him or made him make his way closer, we will never know, but he is home now and that is all that matters.”
The Crowley family expressed their gratitude many times throughout the thread, and after Fred’s safe return, Shonda posted, “Thank you all so very, very much for EVERYTHING! We are blessed to live in such an amazing community!”
And while dozens of residents stepped up to help their fellow neighbor that day, this isn’t the first time Facebook has been used as a command center to gather support – not by a long shot. It’s impossible to name everyone who has started online campaigns or actively participated in helping a neighbor in need.
Sure, Facebook can sometimes end up being a battle ground, but in many cases, Pingree Grove residents use it for the common good. If you live in Pingree Grove, you can be sure that you will not be abandoned in your time of need.
Just ask Fred.