Community effort brings lost dog home

Published 12:09 am Thursday, August 3, 2023

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CLEMMONS — A four-pound chihuahua went missing in Clemmons last month for 11 days, and without the help of her community, the dog’s foster is not sure they would have ever found her.

Margarita is a foster pet through the Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation of Winston-Salem. She had only been in Ashley Smith’s foster care for a few days when she managed to get out of the backyard on July 16.

“I have a huge fenced-in backyard, and she had followed my dogs down, and next thing I know, she was out in the side yard and took off,” Smith said.

To get out, Margarita squeezed through a tiny opening in the gate at Smith’s residence in Asbury Place.

“She took off down the road toward Hwy. 158, crossed over the highway and was gone,” Smith said.

Immediately, a search party was formed.

“We tracked her up to Tractor Supply at Hwy. 40 and Harper Road,” Smith said. “We didn’t feel like she would cross over (Interstate) 40, but we weren’t sure.”

After night fell, they called off the search.

“On Monday morning, we got out and had a couple of trackers who came to help us,” Smith said. “There were no sightings. So, I started doing flyers and posters and using NextDoor and Facebook to try and get sightings of her.”

The following morning, they got a call from a resident that lived in a nearby neighborhood who had reportedly seen Margarita.

“They have chickens, and Margarita had come up to their backyard,” Smith said.

Unfortunately, that couple could not coral Margarita, but it gave Smith a sign of life, even though there were no other reported signs of the pup that day.

“This went off and on for 11 days and 10 hours,” Smith said. “We had multiple sightings of her. We were camped out all throughout the community … As the days wore on, those neighborhoods all started helping us look.”

Smith does not know what she would have done without all the aid.

“The support from this community is what brought her home,” Smith said. “The support from this community was amazing. I had calls from people who weren’t even in the general area wanting to help.”

As search parties meandered through the neighborhood streets, residents offered help in any way they could.

“People were opening their homes in case we needed to use the restroom,” Smith said. “People let us put food stations out.”

Eventually, after more than a week and a half, Margarita was recovered. During that time, she had not made it very far.

“I live in Asbury Place,” Smith said. “She went in at Lasater Road. She made it all the way down to where Cherry’s is near the Presbyterian Church. It’s not that far as the crow flies.”

For a four-pound pup like Margarita, it was quite the territory to explore.

“She didn’t know where she was going,” Smith said. “She had no reference for a home place yet. She had kind of attached herself to me, I thought, but when she took off, I thought she might lose that.”

Ultimately, Smith said Margarita remembered her as the two shared a puppy kiss upon her safe return.

Margarita belongs to AARF, which will attempt to find a home for the dog.

Smith does not own Margarita. She was merely fostering the dog for AARF, an animal rescue in the greater Winston-Salem area that provides foster care, medical services and adoption to homeless, abandoned, surrendered and sick animals so they can have a new lease on life. It is a no-kill shelter.

Through adoption, spaying and neutering, animal-care professionals, community outreach and education, AARF helps to improve the health of the pet community, that in turn improves the health of our entire community. AARF is unique in that it will accept difficult-to-adopt cats and dogs. AARF often provides medical services and training to challenging animals unable to find other services.

To learn more about AARF, visit