Share This Page

Ohioan hunts for dog near Avonmore

An Ohio woman is searching the woods around Avonmore in Westmoreland County this weekend for a specially trained dog missing since August.

"Some people think I'm nuts, but I have to do this," said Jackie Deems, 56, who lives on a farm in Perrysville, Ohio, about an hour west of Canton. "Anyone who loves their animals, they know and understand."

Deems is looking for Patti, a 90-pound, 4-year-old Anatolian shepherd and Great Pyrenees mix.

"She looks like a big, white Labrador retriever," Deems said.

Patti is trained to guard livestock from predators. Until August, she lived with Deems on her farm with 140 animals. Patti guarded a flock of sheep day and night. But the dog often patrolled the property on the outside of the farm's fence, trespassing on a neighbor's property. The neighbors were not happy.

So in August, Deems found a family in Avonmore who raise sheep and have an electric fence surrounding the property. She sedated Patti for the drive, and met the Westmoreland County couple halfway, and said goodbye to the groggy dog.

About 10 minutes after Patti got to her new home, she jumped the fence and ran into the woods.

"My thinking was I don't want to let her go because I love her and am attached to her, but this is the best thing for her," Deems said. "If I'd have thought there was a chance of her escaping, I'd have never let her go."

Deems planned to spend the weekend searching for Patti, passing out fliers, talking to people -- and hoping for a miracle. If she finds the dog, Deems will take her back to Ohio.

"It's been a nightmare because she trusted me to take care of her, and I feel like I let her down," Deems said. "I betrayed her, and now she's out there, and she's got to be afraid and not knowing why I did this to her."

Deems rescued the dog, which was abused as a puppy. The animal shies from human contact. In an attempt to lure Patti out of the woods, Deems brought treats from home, old blankets and audio recordings of other dogs on the farm barking.

It's a solid plan, said Becky DiLucia, a behavior team volunteer at Animal Friends shelter in Ohio Township. A shy dog would avoid roadways and streets in an unfamiliar place, but if she picks up Deems' scent, Patti might reveal herself, she said.

"She's probably confused," DiLucia said. "I'd say she's in survival mode; she's out in woods and has to learn how to stay alive."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.