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Animal owners know the dreadful feeling when a pet goes missing.
And that happened yesterday when a one-year-old weimaraner named Viola went missing from her home in Leedon Park.
Her owner Kerry James said that she had gotten out of the house during the night and they woke up to her missing.
“My biggest fear was that she would get hit by a car as she’s got no road sense,” Kerry said.
But her greatest fear became joy when Viola was found within 15 hours, thanks to the help of netizens and the community who rallied to search for her.
Searching for Viola
When Viola went missing, Kerry immediately reached out to family and friends who searched for the dog within the neighbourhood but to no success.
So she turned online for help, posting a notice on two Facebook groups. She even offered a $1,000 reward.
Comments and suggestions poured in from strangers.
One netizen even helped to create a WhatsApp group to provide live updates on sightings. At one point, there were more than 100 people in the group!
With the live updates on the chat, the search teams were able to narrow their search area, and inform each other which areas they were covering.
Their diligence paid off when people started reporting seeing Viola. First, she was spotted at the Toyota showroom on Leng Kee Road at 9:45am and she was spotted again near Anchorage at 10:30am.
But the elusive dog still managed to slip away from the search teams – when they got there, she could not be found!
Finally though, Kerry and her husband managed to rescue the tired dog at Block 161 on Meiling Street after another tip off by a woman who had gone to look for her during her lunch break.
Community coming together
Kerry said: “I cannot thank everyone enough. I’m so overwhelmed by the community and how supportive people were who went out of their way to look for her. What an incredible experience to see the community work like that!”
“Viola is a part of the family. To know she was out there, lost and in distress, it was like losing a child. It’s through everyone’s hard work that we saved her.”
Stephanie Arifin, Kerry’s daughter-in-law who was part of the search team, said: “Everybody was frantic and we didn’t know what to do. Having people come up and give advice was really useful.”
They are especially thankful for the woman who created and coordinated the messages in the Whatsapp group while they were searching on the ground.
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Stephanie added: “Everyone was amazed at how people came together. If it wasn’t for the Facebook groups, we wouldn’t have found Viola. It’s a really passionate community, many offered to help before we put up the reward.”
Kerry said that no one has claimed the $1,000 reward yet, but she plans to reach out to the person who last sighted Viola to pass her the reward. The Australian, who has been running a flower business in Singapore for the past few years, also plans to send bouquets as a thank-you gesture to people in the chat group who were integral to the successful search.
Kerry, who has lived in Singapore for most of her life, added that she was overwhelmed by the diversity of the people who offered help. She said that pet lovers of all races and segments of society came out to help.
Not just one dog
And it seems now that the WhatsApp group’s work isn’t done.
The people in the group have gone on to look for another lost dog called Louis who went missing today (Feb 18) from Nassim Road.
This time round, Kerry and Stephanie paid forward the kindness and support they got by sharing advice with the owner to help find Louis. Thankfully, Louis was found at 2pm today.
Stephanie said: “It takes a community to find a dog. With one car or one person, it’s impossible. Reach out to your own networks but don’t be afraid to ask for help from strangers too!”
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We are glad that both Viola and Louis are home safe!