Aspen’s dog on the loose captured |

Aspen’s dog on the loose captured

Katie Redding
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” Ellie Mae, the shelter dog who survived outdoors in Aspen, Colorado for nearly a month, was found Friday afternoon, thanks to some observant, dedicated ” and small ” volunteers.

After running away from a volunteer dog walker on March 3, the scared beagle-shepherd mix escaped countless capture attempts by volunteers, community safety officers and seekers of her $1,000 reward.

That is until Friday, when Harley Oppenheim, a Climate Control employee, spotted Ellie Mae during his lunch hour.

Oppenheim was working at the home of Sharon McBay, a resident of the Villas at Aspen who fed Ellie Mae for about three weeks. After inquiring about the bowls of food McBay was setting out, Oppenheim was inspired to track down the dog.

McBay fed Ellie Mae for several weeks, but began to worry when she suddenly stopped seeing the dog, she said. When the traps that Aspen community safety officers set outside her home caught two foxes and a coyote, McBay decided wild animals were eating the food ” and that Ellie Mae was dead.

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So for a few days, McBay stopped putting out food. But then she read another Aspen Times article stating Ellie Mae was believed to be alive and she redoubled her efforts. She even topped every bowl of food off with canola oil and sausage.

“I figured even if it was a wild animal [eating it], I’m going to keep putting it out,” McBay said.

Oppenheim almost gave up, too. After losing Ellie Mae’s tracks, he was headed back to the worksite when he spotted the dog darting into the crawl space under a nearby home. Since he was too big to follow, Oppenheim called the shelter to report a sighting. Soon after, Aspen community safety officers and shelter staff arrived.

Fortunately, Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter board member Linda Koones happened to be volunteering at the shelter when the call came in. A small woman, she offered to see if she could fit in the hole.

The rescue group sent Koones into the 40-foot, dark crawl space just to make sure Ellie Mae was there before they set the trap, said Aspen Animal Shelter Director Seth Sachson. But when Koones spent 20 minutes looking for the dog, they expected bad news.

“We were saying thanks for trying, that was really nice of you,” said Sachson. “And lo and behold, Linda comes out with the dog.”

Koones had managed to catch Ellie Mae with a “catch pole” on just her second try, and then coaxed the scared dog out of her hole. Koones said she was so nervous about losing Ellie Mae again, she kept her on the catch pole all the way back to the shelter.

Remarkably, a veterinarian found her in good health, said Sachson. And already, he said, several board members are contemplating adopting her.

The only problem left may be figuring out how to divide the $1,000 reward. Sachson said the Friends of the Aspen Animal shelter board members who put up the $1,000 reward for Ellie Mae plan to give it to Koones ” but that they also want to offer something to Oppenheim.

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