SOUTH LYON (WXYZ) — "I thought this dog was dumped," said Heather Ineich about the emaciated dog she spotted on the trail cam she had set up at a cemetery in South Lyon.
As the founder of South Lyon Murphy Animal Recovery, Heather had the surveillance camera set to capture pictures of a black dog that had gone missing from a foster with Almost Home Animal Rescue.
But tied around the neck of the emaciated red dog was a red leash - a potential hazard for any dog running loose as it could get snagged and cause injury or leave them trapped in an area where no one can find them.
"And she would remain out here running around with no one looking for her until she perished," said Heather who was now also determined to catch the second dog.
"Our motto here is we don't care where you came from, we only care where you're going," she said.
But eight days passed and there was no sign of either dog.
Then Friday, Jackie Clark, who took her dogs to work at Rockford Chimney Supply located close to the cemetery, took a break to go for a walk and spotted the black dog.
Jackie alerted South Lyon Murphy Animal Recovery and Heather moved the food and the trail cam to the new location.
The same day, the emaciated dog from the cemetery showed up on the trail cam, still dragging that red leash.
"I thought she's going to be back, so I'm going to be ready," Heather said. And Monday, the dog returned at about 4 a.m.
It was a close call because coyotes were also in the area and captured on the same trail cam two hours earlier.
Heather prepared to set a live trap.
"There were no postings about this dog missing. At the same time, I wasn't letting it go," Heather said, now determined to save both dogs.
She set the trap and filled it with an invitation. "I baited it heavy with warm, tasty food.. and we waited," she said.
And by early Monday evening, the emaciated dog was safe in the trap.
"The leash was frozen," Heather said. "When I picked it up, it was cracking."
The mixed-breed dog had patches of hair missing on her back as if she'd undergone heartworm treatment. And there were signs she'd recently been spayed.
The good news was there was also a microchip and the information on it came back to a couple in Ann Arbor as well as the Toledo Humane Society where the chip was originally registered.
Heather called the couple in Ann Arbor and instead of hearing happiness on the other end of the line, Heather was stunned to hear a woman explain that they didn't want the dog back.
The woman said they went to Ohio to adopt her on Nov. 10 and not long after they returned to their home in Ann Arbor, the dog took off.
The woman said they drove around and called out to her, but figured she was gone.
Heather said she can understand a new dog being spooked and running off because it happens often, but she cannot understand how anyone could not notify police, post fliers or notify the adopting agency for advice or help in recovering the dog.
"The part that really cut me deep was when they decided not to look for her any longer because they wanted to continue looking for a different dog and they figured she was gone. That was unacceptable because this is still a life that's out there," said Heather who also asked the woman why they didn't post anything on social media.
"She just said they were looking for another dog and they didn't want losing this one held against them," Heather told 7 Action News.
Thankfully, Heather had a foster family that was able to take in the dog who was named "Ginger" by folks who follow South Lyon Murphy Animal Recovery on Facebook.
And it turns out, Ginger loves to cuddle and be gently wrapped in a blanket like a burrito.
"She likes being warm," her foster mom said as Ginger laid across her lap.
Ginger was also potty trained and doesn't mind being around the family's other dog and cat.
"She's a very good dog and I hope she gets adopted," said 12-year-old Brady who walked Ginger out of his family's house Wednesday afternoon to a van from the Toledo Humane Society when two of their workers arrived to take Ginger back to Ohio where she'll continue to recover from her long adventure and wait for her forever family - perhaps the family truly destined to belong to her.
But it was clear from the tears filling the eyes of Brady and his mom that saying goodbye to their first foster was more than bittersweet. They were going to really miss her.
Brady and his family are proof that it doesn't take years to love a dog. Really all you need is compassion, an open heart and the willingness to be patient for the ones who don't come easy.
"We all want to live," Heather said. "It's not just humans... it's every living creature that's out there."
And Brady says despite the sad goodbye, he'll help his mom and dad foster again and again.
"It's just the fact that knowing that the animal has a warm home to go to," he said.
As for the lost black dog, the search is still on for her in the South Lyon area. If you see her, you're asked to not chase, scare or engage her in any way because she's frightened. But please do take a photo or video if you can and call Jeanne at 734-564-0442.
South Lyon Murphy Animal Recovery operates on donations. If you'd like to help them secure more trail cams to help them spot lost pets, you can make a donation through their Facebook page.