A lost dog that went missing in Framingham five years ago was found this week in Needham and reunited with her owner.
Bay, a street-savvy, white-and-tan Basenji, was first reported missing in June 2016 but managed to survive on her own and roam freely for years. Thanks to the efforts of a nonprofit group called Missing Dogs Massachusetts and Needham’s animal control officer, she was safely captured Tuesday morning and was able to return home.
Needham Animal Control Officer David Parsons said it was a “miracle” that Bay was able to find enough food and water to sustain herself while living outdoors where all kinds of threats abound. She could have easily been attacked by a coyote or hit by a car.
“How did this dog eat? How did it make five winters in Massachusetts?” he said. “‘Homeward Bound’ must be like a G movie compared to what this dog has gone through.”
Parsons said more than a year ago a resident of Powder House Circle in Needham contacted him because a dog — who turned out to be Bay — was defecating in his yard. The resident set up a trail camera that showed the dog coming and going from his yard in the middle of the night.
Parsons got a trap from the Animal Rescue League in Dedham and set it up in the resident’s yard. But the trap was no match for Bay, who somehow managed to escape. Parsons couldn’t believe it.
“The dog got out. That never happens,” said Parsons. “This dog was very street smart.”
Fast forward to April 2021, and Parsons and volunteers from Missing Dogs Massachusetts set up a different type of trap in the resident’s yard.
“We set it up Friday to get her used to it,” said Danielle Matthew, one of the volunteers with Missing Dogs Massachusetts.
They put a bowl of food near the trap door, and then eventually moved it inside.
“By Tuesday morning we felt pretty good,” she said.
And this time, the trap worked. After they successfully captured her, they brought her to Highland Animal Hospital in Needham where she was given a bath and checked out.
“She was in rough shape,” Matthew said. “Five New England winters is a long time.”
Her ears were dirty and she was covered in ticks. Her collar was so tight that it had to be cut off.
But the good news was that she had a microchip. The contact information on the chip was for a dog rescue in Leicester. They called the number and that’s how they were able to confirm her identity.
“They said, ‘you’re not going to believe this, that dog has been missing for five years,’” said Parsons.
Parsons said it turned out that Bay was a street dog from Arkansas before she arrived at the dog rescue. She was then taken in by a woman who lived in Millbury. In June 2016 the woman had to go on a business trip and left Bay in the care of her brother, who lives in Framingham, while she was away. That’s when Bay disappeared, he said.
“From Framingham, don’t ask me how she made her way to Needham,” he said.
When Bay’s owner heard that she had been found, and she was alive and healthy, “she couldn’t believe it,” he said.
The story of how Bay was found was posted on the Missing Dogs Massachusetts Facebook page.
“She is now safe and warm after almost 5 years out there,” the post said.
Parsons said he’s never encountered a dog like Bay before.
“It’s just an amazing story,” he said. “It just shows that you should never quit, and never give up. One day your life can change in a moment.”