Dog missing on Christmas, found before New Year’s Eve

Community searched for family pet during holidays


Avery, a 5-year-old Labrador/bulldog rescue, went missing on Christmas and after a townwide search, was able to be back in her warm, loving home before New Year’s Eve.

“We discovered Avery was missing when we got home from Christmas dinner around 9 p.m. She did not come running to greet us when we got in and after checking the basement and the outdoors, we realized she was not there,” said Colleen Regan, Avery’s mother. “My son had thought I had gotten her in before leaving and I hadn’t even realized she was out.”

The family’s front gate was also “uncharacteristically unlatched,” and this was a “perfect storm,” according to Colleen. 

Footage from the family’s ring cameras revealed Avery making her way down the driveway earlier that evening, “sauntering off without a care,” according to Colleen.

“I’m sure as soon as she got a few blocks away, much like on our walks, she entered panic mode and started running,” said Colleen.

In the first year after being adopted, Avery got out two times, and both times the power of social media posts with responses led the family to her fairly quickly.

After Avery’s second “adventure,” the family invested in an electric fence and more training.

“Thankfully, went without incident for years after,” said Colleen.

With community members sharing Colleen’s post about missing Avery and a strong warning not to chase her, there were hourly updates on sightings and tips.

At around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 30, Colleen said her phone became inundated with texts.

A community member had posted on the Ring app that they spotted a light-colored dog running on Overton in Sayville.

“Countless people forwarded me the post. I immediately jumped out of bed and ran out of the house in my pajamas. While driving up and down Overton, I got a call from another community member that they had spotted Avery out their front window running into the woods across from Napa Auto Parts. I drove right over and, while looking, the husband came out to direct me into the woods. He used his iPhone light to help try and direct me,” recounted Colleen.

Upon spotting Avery a few hundred yards away, Colleen didn’t want to alarm her, as the tracker she had been working with had warned yelling her name could spook even the most loyal of dogs.

“So I calmly said, ‘Avery Butt,’ and—no joke—she froze, and we saw her pop up with her ears perked. I said it again and all of a sudden, she was down and the brush was moving as she made her way towards my voice. I kept calling her name and moving towards her and, suddenly, she emerged and jumped right into my arms. She was whimpering and grunting and telling me all about her journey the entire way home,” said Colleen of the reunion.

While a bit dirty and “very” stinky, Avery thankfully only had superficial injuries.

“She is fully cleaned up and back to her coddled self now. She has been sleeping a lot and cuddling every chance she gets,” said Colleen.

Carol’s Pet Grooming took in Avery right away to give her a spa treatment for her harrowing experience and said, “She just came in for her bath and she is now heading home to get some rest.”

The family adopted Avery in August of 2018 from Last Chance Animal Rescue.

Colleen’s 10-year-old son had been advocating for the family to get a dog for some time. “That summer, he even created a presentation as to why he thought he was mature enough to have a dog. After a probationary period where he had to walk my mother’s senior pups every day for a month, we agreed to his request. We attended an adoption event for LCAR at Petco with another dog we had seen on the website in mind; however, our son immediately fell for sweet Avery,” said Colleen. “I remember thinking how different she was from the other pups—so quiet, not barking, not jumping—we realized later on Avery was simply scared to death. We took her home the day we met her and fell in love. It was obvious she had experienced extensive unknown trauma prior to her rescue by LCAR.”

“Zippies” in the backyard is one of Avery’s favorite daily activities, with running being a game for her.

“She loves to make us chase her. She has always loved squeaker toys, especially if one of us plays with her. She loves rides in the car and walks—but not too far from home. Once we get a few blocks away, her whole demeanor changes and she just wants to get back to the house,” said Colleen.

Brother Bandit the cat, also a rescue adopted in December of 2019, was also happy to have his best friend back.

“Our community rallied in a big way. Starting from that very evening, my neighbors were out driving the streets with me. With each passing day, more and more people jumped on to the cause of finding Avery—people sent suggestions for trackers, shared our posts to other sites, hung signs, asked where they could look,” said Colleen. “Right up until the day Avery was found, we were encountering people on our searches who shared they had been out looking for her, as well. The number of messages we received from strangers that they had added streets to their walk routes in hopes of spotting Avery was astounding.”

Emily Grasso and Nadine Lynn, in particular, were extremely helpful to the family.

“Both reached out from the beginning offering to search, post, hang signs, etc. They checked in with our family constantly to see what we needed—even beyond search efforts. Emily was even at our house picking up signs to hang in the rain so I could bake my daughter’s birthday cake!” said Colleen. 


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