Penrith pulls together to get Sam home

Date: Monday 5th November 2018

THE people of Penrith have been praised for their help in searching for a missing dog which had the town on red alert over the course of almost a week.

Sam, the saluki-cross dog, slipped its lead on Sunday, 21st October, when it had been travelling with a friend of its owner, John Adams, from its home in Bishop Auckland. They stopped at a fast food restaurant at Bridge Lane for a short break and the dog slipped its collar and ran off at speed, before its minder could catch it.

Six days after the dog first escaped — and having been hit by cars at least three times as it ran around the town — it was reunited with its owner in the grounds of Penrith’s Ullswater Community College. John said that despite its ordeal the dog suffered only superficial wounds, was healing well and had settled back home into family life after a visit to the vet.

John and his family thanked everyone “from the bottom of their hearts” for everything that was done during the search, which saw dozens of people scouring the town for Sam, and reporting sightings of the elusive canine at all hours of the day and night. Concern grew over the week as Sam evaded all attempts to catch him — with John travelling from Bishop Auckland daily to join the increasingly frantic search.

As word spread on social media about Sam’s plight, more and more people became involved in the hunt, with hundreds of others voicing their concern on dedicated Facebook pages.

Carol Jeffreys, of Gamblesby, was one of dozens of willing volunteers, and spent about 20 hours through the week searching for Sam. She previously owned dog kennels and, through her contacts, got in touch with Lee Herron, of Dumfries, who has been involved in hundreds of dog rescues.

She said that as the dog seemed to be in “survival mode”, chasing it caused it to run away. Lee advised that anybody who saw Sam should note the time, location and in which direction it was heading, and then immediately call its owner.

Marion Roberts, coach of Penrith Hockey Club, followed this advice when she spotted Sam after arriving early at Penrith Leisure Centre for a match on Saturday morning.

With the assistance of parents, she was able to keep Sam on the spot until he could be reunited with John.

Carol had, on Friday morning, been in touch with staff at the leisure centre, who agreed to leave the gate to an Astroturf pitch open, with Sam’s bed and his owner’s T-shirt placed inside and food laid in a trail to lure the dog in.

The animal had been seen returning to the same area in which it went missing, which is believed to be an instinct to try and locate its owner.

Carol said a number of ropes were attached to the gate so it could be closed from a distance if the dog walked in. Unfortunately, despite Carol and others waiting patiently until 1-30am on Saturday, Sam was nowhere to be seen.

However, the plan finally paid off when Sam came back to the area later that morning to eat the food, which is when Marion spotted the dog.

Carol said it would be impossible to count the number of people who helped search for Sam as, while many looked for him under a co-ordinated group, there were those who went out under their own steam, too, with Carol meeting a couple in the early hours of one morning.

“The response from people has been brilliant,” Carol said. “I was proud to be a Penrithian because everybody was pulling together.” John added: “Can’t thank the people in Penrith enough for what they all did, and especially Carol. Can’t believe how everyone came together to help get my dog Sam back home to us.”