HILLSBORO, Mo. – A missing service dog was found Wednesday morning and reunited with his trainer, thanks, in part, to pizza.
Percy the dog had a checkup at the Starkey Veterinary Clinic near Robertsville, Missouri. The 6-month-old black Labrador was a little scraped up, hungry, and very tired, but otherwise okay.
Percy went missing Sunday along southbound Highway 21 near the Goldman Road exit outside of Hillsboro in Jefferson County. Percy had been in a car with a volunteer trainer and ran off after a roll-over accident. The trainer was not seriously hurt.
Volunteers searched day and night for Percy with no luck. They located his service dog vest near a fence not far from the highway.
“Monday we were out there desperately trying to find him nonstop,” said Emily Johnson, Percy’s owner, and trainer. “Yesterday, we were feeling pretty defeated. There had been no sightings at all. We found his vest alongside a fence. We were feeling pretty lost.”
Johnson heads Gateway K9 Service Dogs, a non-profit organization that provides service dogs at no cost to veterans and first responders with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or mobility issues.
“PTSD dogs have shown proof they can help their soldiers get back out in public,” Johnson said. “A lot of people are scared to leave their homes but when they have a buddy with them all the time it helps them get back out. He can help interrupt night terrors.”
Percy was about a third of the way through $20,000 worth of training when the accident happened.
A woman spotted Percy in her yard around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, about two miles of the accident scene. She called the phone number included in a Facebook post about Percy.
With the help of some leftover pizza, she managed to keep a very hungry Percy from running off again until a Gateway K9 crew arrived.
“We were calling him, he starts running towards us, he stopped, grabbed a piece of pizza, and then came to us, like, ‘Wait, I’ve got to get this, I’m hungry!’” Johnson said.
Percy seems skittish around cars and car sounds at the moment, so he’s going to get used to just being a pet again for the next few weeks before resuming training. He should be someone’s service dog within a year.