Yuki, a seven-year-old Shikoku, has been reunited with her family after an eight-day saga that took the lost dog from North Delta to the north side of Richmond.
It all started on July 12 when Yuki slipped her collar in the neighbourhood of 120th Street and 80th Avenue. While her owners Erica Roberts (27) and Erik Ellis (27), were at work, Roberts’ parents, who were in town visiting from Ottawa, took Yuki for a walk.
At around 3 p.m. Yuki got loose, and for the next week her owners frantically searched the area, following up on every tip they received from neighbours and well-wishers on Facebook.
“We miss her very much,” Yuki’s owner, Erica Roberts, told the Reporter on July 20, less than six ours before Yuki was found. “We’ve basically dropped everything for the past week and are trying to find her.”
“She’s our first dog,” Roberts continued. “I’ve been posting everywhere I could possibly find on social media and everybody’s being really nice in sharing it and going out looking for her, but no luck yet. It’s been eight days now.”
Yuki was spotted many times over the week she was missing. Early on she was seen near the Delta Nature Reserve, then again around Annieville. The night of July 13 she was spotted in a secure area at the Fraser Surrey Docks. Around noon on July 19, some young women reportedly found her near the Costco on Bridgeport Road in Richmond. Then a day later around 1 p.m., a Good Samaritan was able to get within 10 feet of her near Steveston Highway and No. 3 Road before Yuki got spooked and ran away.
Dozens of people helped search for Yuki, and the couple employed the services of Petsearchers Canada, a Surrey-based “pet detective and bloodhound tracking service committed solely to the task of reuniting lost and stolen pets with their families,” according to the company’s website.
But the search for Yuki was complicated by the fact that she looks similar to coyote, especially from a distance or at low light. Roberts found several reports of coyote sightings on social media that she believed were, in fact, Yuki.
“It’s just so frustrating that people have been so close to her and we could have had her back on several occasions, but either it wasn’t reported or obviously somebody actually just decided to leave her there because they thought she was a coyote,” Roberts said.
Case in point: When Yuki was spotted on Juy 13 near Costco she was twice mistaken for a coyote; once by the people that found her, and then again by the City of Richmond employee that was sent to check on her.
“Some girls actually saw her lying down, they thought she was a coyote, but Yuki is not a coyote so she allowed them to approach and took water from them and took dog treats,” Roberts said.
According to posts on social media, the women not only thought Yuki was a coyote, but thought she was dead until she sat up. Once they realized their mistake they contacted Richmond Animal Protection Society (RAPS), who in turn contacted Richmond bylaw enforcement.
“Apparently this person thought she was a coyote and would not take her with him, so she was left there and has now moved on somewhere else and we don’t know where she is,” Roberts said, citing a conversation with a RAPS representative. She had not spoken to anyone from the City of Richmond.
Roberts and Ellis adopted Yuki this past Victoria Day weekend after she retired as a breeding dog at a Vancouver Island kennel. Yuki’s rural roots added another level of stress to an already gut-wrenching situation.
“She’s probably scared and she’s not used to being around traffic, in the city especially,” Roberts said. “[She’s] not really super traffic savvy and that’s the biggest concern. Clearly she’s survived on her own for a long time now, but there’s always a huge fear that she’s going to get hit by a car before we can get to her.”
Thankfully, Roberts, Ellis, and Al MacLellan from Petsearchers were able to catch Yuki before that happened.
Around 8 p.m. on July 20, two women spotted Yuki lying down at the corner of Coppersmith Place and Coppersmith Way in Richmond. The women texted Roberts, who in turn looped in Petsearchers and RAPS, and MacLellan was able to get a net over Yuki as she tried to run away.
Now Yuki is safe and sound, back with her family in North Delta. After eight days she’d lost a lot of weight and was exhausted from her time on the lam, but was otherwise alright.
“I can confidently say that the only reason we have her home is that people on social media took the time to share our story and report sightings,” Roberts told the Reporter after Yuki was found. “We are so thankful for that.”