It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes an entire city to catch a dog.
Ginger, a 3-year-old Australian Shepherd, ran away from home more than 10 days ago, and the Seward community is pulling together to try to bring her home safely.
But, a core group of those trying to catch Ginger are asking others to leave the dog be unless they’re willing to make it a full-time effort.
Val Pilfold, Ginger’s caretaker, recently adopted the dog.
“With the recent loss of my Mom and an even more recent relationship breakup, I was wanting to get a dog to love and to love back since Winnie (her previous dog) had crossed the Rainbow Bridge,” Pilfold said.
She posted messages in the Lincoln and Grand Island areas on Craigslist, saying she was looking for a pup to love.
When a girl, Alicia, responded that she had Ginger available to adopt, they started corresponding.
“Then she told me about Ginger having been abused since she was a pup and that she does not like men,” Pilfold said. “I told her I was absolutely interested in adopting Ginger.”
Pilfold went to meet Ginger and brought her back to Seward.
“She was a very, very scared girl, but she was getting more comfortable around me as time passed,” Pilfold said. “She started to take food from my hand, jumped up on the bed and slept by me.”
On Day 4, Pilfold took Ginger to Seward’s dog park.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to take her to the dog park and let her see how it is to be a free and loved dog,” she said.
Ginger’s tail was wagging and she didn’t seem scared as they got out of the car, but when they got to the gate, the only other dog at the park barked.
“That spooked Ginger—Ginger doesn’t bark—and she ripped the leash right from my hand and ran across the road to the corn field,” Pilfold said.
That was 10 days ago as of Aug. 9.
Robin Pollak, a dog owner herself who is aiding in the search along with several others in Seward, said they are working with three animal rescue groups to try to find Ginger—though she’s not really lost.
The dog has been sighted all over town, and people are continuously leaving comments on the Seward (Nebraska) Community Chat and Infamous Pink Dog Facebook pages.
“Pink” because Ginger’s leash—which was still attached to her collar with the most recent sightings—is pink, though Pollak said it’s probably dirty and brown by now.
The rescue groups, one from Omaha, one from Papillion and one from Illinois, are helping by giving advice and trying to find cages large enough for Ginger.
One has offered to bring a team of dogs to Seward to track Ginger’s scent, so they can map out the places to which she keeps returning. Pollak said that would cost $1,000.
Pollak said they’ve set up three feeding stations to try to lure Ginger, but it’s important that people stay far away.
“Do not interfere, even with the best intentions,” Pollak said. “Don’t call her name. Don’t try to catch her. Do not leave food outside your house. We want her to be so hungry that she comes to one of these three stations to eat. But it’s important that she gets used to it,” without people around.
Once the dog is comfortable returning to the same place, they plan to set a trap to catch her instead of approaching her.
“She won’t even come up to Val. She’s in that fight or flight mode,” Pollak said.
The size of cage they’ll need to catch her isn’t readily available. Pollak said they can be purchased for close to $200 each, so they’re trying to pool some money for that and for medical care after Ginger is caught.
She said others have donated food, too, after the animal rescues told them to get lots of chicken—specifically KFC chicken— because of its smell.
“I even had a lady drive down from Lincoln and give me a bucket of chicken,” Pollak said.
Though they don’t want people to approach Ginger, they do want people to keep posting sightings to help them track her movement.
“People have been amazing in this whole nightmare for me, and I truly do thank every single one of them,” Pilfold said.