Family dog found after eight months
PATCHOGUE—The Petras family from Holbrook was devastated after losing their Border collie mix Yoyo and, after months of searching, hope seemed to be lost.
About four years ago, Christine and Steve Petras and their two children, Tyler, 8, and Addison, 6, adopted 3-month-old Yoyo, who recently turned 4, from North Carolina. Though a bit timid, he settled into the family quickly and enjoyed sleeping next to Tyler’s bed every night. On May 9, 2016, the first nice day of the season, Christine brought Yoyo to pick up Addison from preschool and to socialize with the other dogs.
“He is very timid and shy, so I would let him play with the other dogs while the kids played on the playground,” she said.
But this time was different. A nice man and father of another child at the school wanted to pet shy Yoyo. Instead of tucking behind Christine’s legs, Yoyo broke free from her grasp and when they tried to catch him, he ran.
“I was calm because he is off-leash trained. I didn’t panic, but he just bolted,” she said.
Christine and a few others followed Yoyo as far as they could from the preschool at the Greenbelt Recreation Center located on Patchogue-Holbrook Road to Waverly Avenue, where he eventually was lost in the woods.
“He’s really been missing ever since that day. Someone said they might have seen him crossing Waverly to Woodside,” she said, noting a few scattered potential sightings through social media. “A few days after, someone said they might have seen a dog that looked like him running with a leash in the woods … but that was it.”
That day they searched until it got dark, filed a police report and blasted the missing pet on social media. A canine rescue group helped the Petrases search by setting up food stations and cameras and searching daily for about two months. But there was no sign of Yoyo and soon the family lost hope.
“Chances of finding him were less and less. Either something happened to him and he passed or someone found him and kept him,” she said, hoping for the latter. “He is a Border collie and could have run 5 to 10 miles a day. He could have been anywhere.”
Hoping for the best, the search stopped, leaving the family wondering what happened to their beloved pet. In a strange turn of events after over eight months missing, a hunter, who had planted an illegal trap in the wooded area off Sunrise Highway Service Road near the Gateway Plaza in Patchogue, caught a dog.
The man who found and rescued the dog from the trap was overheard talking about it in a nearby store by one of the Petras’ friends. Upon hearing the news, Christine followed up with the Brookhaven Animal Shelter and, sure enough, it was Yoyo. On Jan. 30, he returned home.
“We don’t think someone had him because he lost 25 pounds and his paw pads were a mess. The vet said it was from being in a wet marshy area for a long time,” she explained.
Yoyo, who normally weighs about 68 pounds, was 42 pounds when he was found and suffered from a skin condition, but sustained no injury from the trap. According to Christine, inside the wooded area where he was found there is a freshwater stream, a homeless population and a cat colony, which would explain his food source.
“It’s an incredible story and such an incredible feeling to be able to reunite them after such a long time,” said Brookhaven Animal Shelter director Ashley Boyd. “Every time we found a Border collie, we hoped it was him. The family was just ecstatic and came down to get him right away.”
According to Boyd, the shelter has had stories of dogs being reunited with their families after long periods of time, but never a dog that was out surviving in the woods. Usually, she said, the dogs are living in another home and get loose and brought to the shelter.
“It was a really odd set of events; if that hunter never set up an illegal trap, we probably wouldn’t have him back,” said Christine. “We are so thrilled to have Yoyo back. I know everyone thinks their pet is special, but Yoyo really is wonderful. He’s so gentle and kind, with the most soulful eyes.”
“There is a kind of magic with a homecoming like this that you don’t question,” added Steve Petras. “You just stand back in amazement and feel overwhelming joy, wipe the tears from your eyes and be thankful as you realize your family is whole again.”
Yoyo has since gained some of his weight back and is getting comfortable back home. He has continued to sleep by Tyler’s side and is falling back into the Petras’ routine. He remembers all his commands and feels lucky to be home.
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