MORGAN COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The family of Joker, a 2-year-old American pit bull terrier, was heartbroken when their dog went missing in a remote area outside of Wiggins back on March 7.
“He usually takes one of the dogs on long trips, so he took her and they were going to Las Vegas to deliver commercial roofing,” Joker’s mom Sara Heydens said.
Heydens said her other half, John, stopped on Interstate 76 near Wiggins to rest. He was traveling all the way from Michigan. She said that’s when another car drove off the expressway he was parked on and crashed into his semi.
She said John went to help the other driver, whose car was on fire.
“He thought he secured Joker away from where the accident was. He went to get the lady out of the burning car, he was trying to get her to calm down but when he went back to Joker, Joker was gone,” Heydens said.
She said John started looking for Joker right away but had no luck and had to return home to Michigan.
“On Friday night, the 10th, he got home around 10 p.m. Then, around 11:30 p.m. we got back in the pickup truck and headed back to Colorado to go find her,” Heydens said.
Heydens said they put up and sent out hundreds of lost dog flyers with Joker’s photo and their number. She said they continued to search for several days but couldn’t find her.
“I was bawling my eyes out ’cause I didn’t want to leave without her,” she said.
Just as they were leaving to head back to Michigan because of their kids and other dogs, they received a phone call from a stranger named Karen who saw the missing dog poster.
“She said she saw our story and that Joker had been spotted along I-76, and they wanted to come and help,” Heydens said.
Karen and Amy, with i70 Corridor Lost & Found Pets, Eastern CO, met with the Heydens family. They also set up traps and trail cameras in the areas they believed Joker was.
Heydens said she and John had to head home, but held out hope.
On March 18, 11 days later, Heydens said she received another call from a stranger who saw the missing dog flyer.
“Then I got a call from this lady saying, ‘I’m looking at your dog, she won’t come to me but I’m staring at her,'” Heydens said.
Heydens called Amy and Karen right away, who made it to the location in 45 minutes. She said they set up a trap and trail cameras in that area and also put out bacon and chicken. Then, they sat and waited for several hours, but Joker never came around.
However, about 20 minutes after Amy and Karen left the area, they got a notification on the trail camera that something was in the trap.
“She was spotted on the camera and in the trap,” Heydens said. “They called us and said, ‘I am going to send you a pic of the dog on the trail cam to make sure it’s your dog,’ you could still see her collar and sure enough it was her.”
So she and her son jumped on a flight out to Colorado while Karen held onto Joker until they got there.
“She lost a lot of weight, you could see her ribs and everything,” Heydens said. “We never expected the outcome that we got but we were praying for it.”
Heydens is thankful her dog survived so many days lost in Colorado.
However, she is just as thankful to all the strangers who helped find Joker — especially Amy and Karen — with I-70 Corridor Lost & Found Pets.
As a way of saying thank you, Heydens started a GoFundMe, with all the money going to the organization that helped reunite Joker.
She said her hope is it will continue to allow them to reunite lost dogs with their owners. She called Amy and Karen, who are volunteers and help on their own time and dime, an amazing angel duo when it comes to finding dogs.
Now, Joker is back in Michigan with her pack of siblings and Heydens said she is finally relaxed and comfortable again.
“We are so grateful to Joker’s family for setting up a [GoFundMe] to pay it forward to help other owners be reunited with their lost pets. Gofudme is an amazing platform that helps connect people support causes that touch their heart that they may not be able to physically assist in but can make a huge difference in by supporting the cause with the financial needs. The amount of pets that go missing is great and endless. This [GoFundMe] will help fund more searches with the proper equipment and supplies to help in lost pet recoveries. Just this week all of our equipment was deployed on multiple recoveries [throughout] Colorado. Colorado has an amazing lost pet community online as well as many recovery teams of which are completely volunteer based and not for profit. Most expenses come directly out of the volunteer pockets. Thank you Joker’s family for supporting us, and thank you Joker for being such a survivor, your journey, along with [GoFundMe] will continue to help other lost pets get home safe!” – Amy and Karen with i70 Corridor Lost & Found Pets