Kathy Wilkes-Myers, part of the Love Me Tender animal rescue team, found an emaciated Rottweiler wandering around and drinking water from a drainage ditch beside an interstate in central Tennessee. Ella was one of over a thousand dogs rescued by the group over the last 20 years. It’s not uncommon for people to abandon their dogs on the side of the road, but there was something different about this one.
“I could just tell right away she was somebody’s baby. She just didn’t act like a stray dog to me,” Kathy said.
She began to do some investigation of the area where Ella had been spotted. Kathy found broken glass and tail lights, and nearby was a candle that said ‘Michelle’ on it, a toothbrush, and other household items. It suddenly dawned on her that two weeks prior, she had passed a horrific accident along that stretch of highway. She remembered thinking no one could have survived the single-car crash that resulted in the vehicle landing on its roof.
Kathy called Highway Patrol, and was told a family had been in that crash. The mother’s name was Michelle. It looked to Kathy like Ella had gathered up the remnants of her family’s belongings and was sleeping near them – waiting in the last place she had seen her family. She held vigil for 13 days, subsisting on whatever bits of food she could find.
Kathy was delighted to hear that miraculously, the family had survived! She contacted Michelle and Joe Kelley, who had spent the last two weeks believing Ella died in the accident. She had been flung from the car, likely into the nearby woods, and emergency responders never saw her.
The reunion was bittersweet for the Kelleys. While overjoyed at seeing their beloved Ella, the cost of the crash and mounting medical expenses forced the family to move from their home. Their current, temporary residence does not allow pets. But Kathy has promised to look after Ella in the meantime.