When Harrison resident John Latour was involved in a traffic accident last month, he never thought it would lead to a week-long search for a family member.
The story started Feb. 26, when Latour and his girlfriend, Hannah Kish, were driving on Freeport Road in Natrona Heights, Harrison, and got into a car accident.
Their dog, Shadow, was in the back seat. The crash caused one of the windows to break open, and a startled Shadow clawed his way out and dashed away.
The couple didn’t realize Shadow was gone as they checked on everyone involved in the crash.
“I was really focused on the other vehicle because I heard a kid scream and wanted to make sure everything was OK,” Kish said.
No one was hurt.
The family quickly began to search for Shadow, a 4-year-old pit bull-boxer mix, spending at least two hours combing the area. As midnight drew near, they called it quits.
Latour’s brother, Anthony, continued the quest on social media, posting on a Facebook community group seeking help to find Shadow.
The appeal prompted an overwhelming response, with people posting and calling about the dog’s sightings. Latour and Kish were touched but still unsure whether their furry companion would make it home.
One community member, Fawn Natskakula, had experience as an animal control officer. She set up a humane trap to try to capture Shadow, following reports the dog was spotted crossing from Route 28 up to the hills behind Ridge Road in Fawn.
Natskakula said it was a task getting a trap because they are in short supply. She tried using one of her own and borrowed one from a woman in New Kensington, but they both proved to be too small for Shadow.
“To see complete strangers going out of their way to help us was heartwarming and amazing to see,” Anthony Latour said.
People would look for Shadow from daylight to sundown, taking different shifts throughout the day. Each day, a total of 18 hours was spent by people looking for Shadow.
“I work from home, so any time I would get a sighting or call, I’d leave my desk and drive there,” he said.
Home felt dark and empty while Shadow was gone, John Latour said. “It is incredible how much a pet becomes a presence in your home.”
Kish was training for a marathon at the time. Though preoccupied by the search, she decided to break away from it one day.
“I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I will see him,’ but I wasn’t carrying any treats or a leash with me,” she said.
Kish’s route took her past a ballpark near Highlands Middle School. Suddenly, over by the baseball fields, she spotted a dog that resembled Shadow.
She was in disbelief—until the dog looked over at her, and she knew it was Shadow.
Remembering the advice of others, she played it cool. Running toward him could scare him away. Instead, she played her favorite game of chase, running up and down the field.
After a while, she flopped to the ground, pretending to be injured, hoping to get her attention.
“I was yelling, ‘Shadow, Shadow, help me,’ ” she said, and made exaggerated movements with her body.
Sure enough, Shadow made his way over, and gave her familiar kisses.
Shadow came home March 5, seven days after his escape, and the energy in the house was restored, Kish said.
“It was a complete relief, and I almost didn’t feel like it was happening.”
The family, along with Natskakula, are creating a GoFundMe to help raise funds for a large box trap to have more readily available for situations when dogs get lost.
John Latour is grateful for all the support and help the community provided to help bring their dog back home.
“I am just grateful that it worked out the way it did,” he said. “It could’ve gone bad very easily.”
Tanisha Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tanisha at 412-480-7306, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter