Lost and then Found: Nitro Goes Home
Aug 14

Lost and then Found: Nitro Goes Home

See how the Lost and Found Program at BARCS made for a very special happy ending.
In late March 2019, Cheryl S. was relaxing on a week-long cruise to the Caribbean with her family. One important family member stayed behind: 9-year-old Yorkie Nitro was in the care of a pet sitter back at home, eagerly awaiting his family’s return. When the ship pulled into port in Key West a day into their vacation, Cheryl received a text message that made her blood turn cold: Nitro had gotten out late at night and was lost.
Cheryl’s instinct was to jump into action, but it was nearly impossible to communicate while at sea. The pet sitter posted Nitro to local Facebook lost dog pages and checked local shelters every day. She also began to hang flyers and followed up on leads from possible sightings.
Then, upon her return, Cheryl and her family ramped up the efforts to find Nitro. They placed ads on Craigslist, made new posts on Facebook, visited local veterinarians and pet stores, hung hundreds of flyers, and canvassed nearby neighborhoods to speak with people about Nitro. The family also contacted an organization that uses trained K9 search teams to help find missing pets.
The highly skilled K9 search team was able to track Nitro’s scent into a local cemetery. Unfortunately, the K9 handler noted that it was too dangerous to allow the dog into the wooded area as it may scare Nitro out into a busy roadway. The handler instructed the family to place feed stations and scent strips in the woods along with a trail camera to ensure Nitro was there. Unfortunately, there was only fox activity on the camera. Frustrated and upset, Cheryl began to wonder if she would ever find Nitro.
Over the next few weeks, Cheryl and her family investigated more possible sightings, but each time, it wasn’t Nitro. Cheryl wasn’t ready to give up though; she knew in her heart that Nitro had to be out there.
One day, though, the sightings stopped. In her own words, Cheryl explains:
I revisited all the areas in which Nitro had been sighted and went back to the cemetery every day to look. I drove countless streets over and over again sometimes, just watching and waiting. I placed more flyers. I carried a backpack with me filled with a leash, smelly treats, posters, tape and Nitro’s favorite blanket, just in case I found him. Every single day I checked every local shelter’s website and lost dog pages on Facebook. So many community members called me with tips, good wishes, prayers and thoughts and screenshots of Yorkies to check on. The whole town was on the lookout for him, and everyone wanted to see him find his way home.
In mid-July, one Nitro’s devoted followers texted Cheryl a picture from Finding Rover, a website that uses pet facial recognition technology to reunite owners with missing pets. A Yorkie was listed at BARCS, and once she saw his picture, Cheryl knew it was Nitro! 
“I was trying not to get my hopes up as I had been disappointed so often over the past three months. I showed the picture to my husband, and he said that has to be him or his twin. I texted the picture to my son, who replied back “THAT IS HIM!” I could hardly contain myself and slept very little that evening,” she explains.
The next morning, BARCS didn’t open until 11 a.m., but Cheryl was ready and waiting at the door at 10:30 a.m. With free pet adoptions going on, the lobby was flooded with interested adopters. Cheryl tried to be patient, but she was so anxious to confirm that she found Nitro! At last, a BARCS team member called Cheryl and another guest, who was also looking for a missing Yorkie, to the kennel. Her dog had only been missing for two weeks, and she mentioned that people had told her to “give up” on the search. Cheryl encouraged her to stay strong.
When they entered the final dog room to look for Nitro, Cheryl heard a familiar bark. And in the very last kennel, after almost four months, there he was: little Nitro. Cheryl burst into thankful tears while the other guest comforted her.
Nitro was found on July 18 by Baltimore City Animal Control officers wandering on a street about three miles from Cheryl’s house. After a joyful reunion with his family and a few minor health issues that have been resolved, Nitro is happy to be home.
Cheryl says:
Looking for a lost dog is all consuming. It’s following every lead, keeping on top of posts, posting new information as quickly as possible, searching and more searching. It’s like riding a roller coaster. One day you’re up because you’ve had a sighting, and the next day you’re down because you haven’t found him. I cannot thank my community and my friends enough. They were truly devoted to bringing Nitro home, and in the end, they did!
As an open-admission shelter, BARCS takes in more than 12,000 animals every year. More than half of the animals that come into our care are strays. This year, BARCS is putting special focus on how we can reunite more lost animals with their families.
To help make this happen, we’ve:
• Partnered with Finding Rover, a free, national database with pet facial recognition software.
• Completed thorough staff training courses through Mission Reunite.
• Installed a pet tag engraver on site.
• Microchipped every animal adopted from us.
All of this made possible by your support—help us make more happy endings by donating to BARCS. With increased funding, we can continue to implement innovative programs that allow families to be reunited and lives to be saved!