Last Christmas, Jackie Vestal and her husband traveled from their California home to Oklahoma City, Okla., bringing along Maddox, their beloved 7-year-old Miniature Pinscher. They had planned a fun holiday with friends and family, what they didn’t plan was for their dog to run away. It has been 147 days since they last saw Maddox and they have not stopped searching for him.
“I just want him home. I love him. He is my child and I would do anything for him,” said Vestal.
Vestal had left Maddox with a family friend while she and her mother-in-law traveled to Dallas to visit a resort. A few hours after arriving in Dallas, Vestal received a phone call that devastated her.
“Our family friend’s home had a doggie door that led to the garage. [The family friend] had gone to church and I guess Maddox had gotten into the garage,” said Vestal. “When she arrived back home and opened the garage door, Maddox probably got startled by the noise and just took off. She followed him around, but he kept running, so she went back home to get her car and that was the last time she saw him,” Vestal recounted in between tears.
Vestal made it back to Oklahoma City to start the search for Maddox. The Vestals searched the area where Maddox was last seen, but they didn’t find him.
“I was screaming his name,” said Vestal. “I shouldn’t have done that. I should have spoken softly and calmly, but I didn’t. I believe [Maddox] was looking for me and that is why he ran away.”
Day after day Vestal went back to the same area to look for her pet. She posted fliers, set feeding stations and placed personal belongings with her scent, just in case Maddox was still in the area looking for her.
With Christmas and New Years now long gone, Vestal knew she had to go back to California, but she couldn’t get herself go back home. Not without Maddox. She made the decision to stay in the area and continue the search. She stayed as long as her leave of absence from work allowed it. That was mid April, 2013.
During all this time, Vestal set up a network of 20 volunteers that search for Maddox along her side. She started the website Bring Maddox Home and the Facebook fan page Maddox Miniature Pinscher Lost in Okc. A tip line (405-283-6863) is open for people to call with information of possible sightings. Even a private investigator, Karin TarQwyn, specializing in the recovery of missing, lost and stolen dogs was hired.
TarQwyn has traced Maddox’s scent to a creek in Edmond, Okla. Yet the area Maddox frequents is rather large – 15 square miles of fields, creeks and new homes. Vestal and her team set up feeding stations and cameras to monitor the area, but they’re still waiting to capture elusive Maddox on tape. So far the cameras have captured lots of wild animal life.
To this date, live traps have not been used. Live traps need to be checked daily and this task is too big for the number of volunteers currently looking for Maddox. As soon as Maddox is captured on camera, the team will use live traps.
The last sighting of Maddox came from locals who saw a dog matching Maddox description inside a house under construction. But once again, the dog believed to be Maddox was able to run back to the wooded area surrounding the house.
“I think the same thing that is making him stay alive is what is making it so hard to find him,” said Vestal. “He is so quick and scared that it is just hard to catch him.”
Even though Maddox has not been found, his search has brought 25 other dogs home, among those Maddee, Tiny, Jager and Sam. Vestal, her team of volunteers and rescue organization have successfully saved, reunited and re-home these other pets.
Vestal doesn’t lose hope. She continues her search and hopes to celebrate along with Maddox, his 8th birthday this coming August 13, 2013.