Zoey the Bichon Frise went on quite the harried ride this week, and Felipe Rodriguez saw her take off.
He told reporters for the Associated Press he thought he was hallucinating when he saw an eagle snatch his sister’s dog from their yard on the banks of the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania.
“It seemed like something from the ‘Wizard of Oz,'” he told the AP on Wednesday. “I’m a city boy. This doesn’t happen in my world.”
Even more astonishing: Tiny, 8-pound Zoey would live to bark another day.
The AP looked into the story, checking with a biologist at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary to see if an eagle could do such a thing.
“It has been documented before, but not that often,” said Laurie Goodrich. “Food is scarce right now, particularly with this cold snap,” she said. “The waterways are freezing up. They’re going to be looking a little more widely and taking advantage of whatever might be out there.”
Rodriguez had been visiting is sister in Bowmanstown, about 80 miles north of Philadelphia, when he heard a screech. He got to the window in time to see the eagle holding Zoey in its talons. The dog had been playing in the yard.
He patrolled the neighborhood by car looking for Zoey but found no trace. He assumed she was a goner, and his sister and her family were devastated.
“I did nothing but cry all day,” Monica Newhard said, noting she’d seen eagles before as her home is very close to the river. But she had no idea any of her dogs could be in danger.
They searched the woods for Zoey’s remains with no idea that a good Samaritan would have her in a safe place later that very day — but four miles away.
Christina Hartman was driving on a snowy road when she saw something odd and stopped to investigate. The furry lump turned out to be Zoey.
“I notice this little frozen dog, icicles hanging from all over. It could hardly move,” Hartman said.
Hartman scooped the pup up in a blanket and took her home, where she was given two bowls of chicken-and-rice soup. Slowly, Zoey — who was limping, had small wounds on her neck and no collar — began to come around.
“This dog belongs to a family, and I’m gonna find out who owns it,” Hartman told herself.
The following day, she saw Newhard’s public Facebook post. She was thrilled to be able to call Zoey’s family.
“I said, ‘It’s a miracle! I have your dog!”
It’s not clear how far the eagle carried her, but Rodriguez said he can’t believe Zoey survived.
“She is not really herself but she is getting lots of love,” his sister, Newhard, texted the AP late Wednesday. “She doesn’t want to go out. … I really can’t blame her.”