'Crazy-clever' dog captured with fishing line after year on the run in Red Deer

A German shepherd on the run in central Alberta for more than a year was finally captured thanks to a dedicated dog catcher, some bait and some jury-rigged fishing line.

'He is smarter than we are. That is what we determined'

Mission evaded capture and lived as a stray on the streets of Red Deer for more than a year. (Kim Hessel)

A German shepherd on the run in central Alberta for more than a year was finally captured thanks to a dedicated dog catcher, some bait and a jury-rigged fishing line.

The dog — now named Mission after the months-long mission to capture him — began roaming around Red Deer's Deer Park neighbourhood in December 2017.

The dog was finally caught on Saturday by lost-dog tracker Darlene Burt of Calgary.

"Poor Darlene came up with every possible tool in her arsenal to try and get this guy, but he was just that much smarter," said Kim Hessel with Heaven Can Wait, an animal rescue in High River now caring for Mission.

"He's crazy clever, a crazy-clever dog." 

'Foiled so many times'

Mission spent two winters living in the neighbourhood park. He could often be heard howling at night and was regularly spotted rummaging for scraps in back alleys.

Concerned residents in the neighbourhood began feeding the dog and staged numerous attempts to rescue him.

But Mission evaded capture again and again.

Even the best-laid traps were no match for the canine escape artist.

"He is smarter than we are. That is what we determined," Hessel said in an interview Friday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.  "There were many, many attempts.

"He was really clever. If he felt anything under his feet or over his head, he would run off. He just wouldn't trap."

There were many, many attempts.-Kim Hessel

But Burt was like a dog with a bone. She donated her time and spent weeks trying to trap Mission. 

The rescue culminated Saturday night with Burt rigging a fishing line to a swinging backyard gate and lying in wait.

"What Darlene was able to rig up with the help of a very compliant neighbour was really quite creative; a piece of fishing line that ran the whole length of the fellow's yard from the gate," Hessel said.

"Darlene was hiding in the house and was able to actually pull that fishing line with enough force that it shut the gate and got the dog enclosed into the yard."

After the dog was corralled, Bert was able to slip a collar around his neck and load him into a kennel. 

"I can't imagine the anticipation, especially when they had been foiled so many times," Hessel said. 

A potential owner for Mission has come forward, Hessel said.

While skittish, Mission survived his ordeal in good health and is surprisingly plump for a street dog, she said.

"He has managed to come through this whole ordeal surprisingly intact. It's an amazing story of survival.

"I'm always really amazed by their ability to really try and live."


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