A Sarnia family is grateful to police and residents for the safe return of their dog, which was taken while tied up outside a downtown eatery.
“You hear so many bad stories, but this time it was wonderful how the community came together,” says Amy Campbell, sister of the dog’s owner. “We are very thankful.”
Embsay is a two-year-old blonde German shepherd-husky mix. Matt McKay, 31, was caring for her while his parents were on vacation and took the dog for a walk on July 27.
“I tied her up outside Your Place (Eatery & Bar) and went inside to place my order,” McKay said. “I was inside maybe 15 or 20 minutes and when I came out, the dog and her leash were gone.
“I thought, you’ve got to be kidding.”
He immediately called Sarnia police to report the missing pooch and called Campbell to see if she had photos.
“I’ve taken care of Embsay many times and she is such a healthy, happy dog. She wouldn’t hurt a soul,” McKay said. “She’s very friendly and that’s what got her into trouble I think.”
Police reviewed surveillance video from across the street that showed a shirtless man on a bicycle take Embsay as she was waiting outside the restaurant.
Campbell posted photos of Embsay on social media, including the Sarnia Lambton Lost & Found Pets Facebook page.
The response was overwhelming, she said.
“Matt was devastated and my sister and brother-in-law were very upset, so when people started responding online with tips and messages, it was very encouraging.”
One post was shared 800 times over the weekend. Canada Post workers offered to circulate photos in case they spotted the dog on their routes.
“It was very touching, absolutely amazing how the community came together,” said Campbell.
On the morning of July 29 city police posted a photo of the man suspected of taking Embsay. Around 6 p.m. numerous calls came, said Const. Giovanni Sottosanti.
“People reported seeing the dog in the Lambton Mall Road area and police were dispatched,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the public’s help, she may not have been returned so quickly and safely.”
Officers found Embsay being led on a rope by a 49-year-old man in an alleyway behind the Lambton Mall Road plaza. She’d been missing two days.
Campbell got to the police station just before returning officers pulled in.
“That dog was literally smiling in the backseat. She was just ecstatic to see us,” she said. “I called my sister right away with the good news.”
“I was so relieved,” said McKay. “It was awesome. This just goes to show you that this is a nice community, somewhere you’d like to live,” he said. Embsay was a little hungry but otherwise OK.
Police reported the man was under investigation. Campbell said her sister doesn’t want charges laid.
“My sister and I hope the hurting, lonely gentleman who took her gets the help and support he needs. She’s just glad to have her dog back. Embsay is a member of the family,” she said.
“We just see all the other pets on that (Facebook) site and hope they have happy endings too.”
Embsay was named for a village in Yorkshire, England where McKay’s grandfather lived during the Second World War.