JACKSON COUNTY -- It was a happy reunion for Susan Ming and her poodle, Miss Candace Rose, also known as Candy. Thanks to the efforts of Jackson County animal control and welcome center security officers, the two were reunited after a two-week search.
"Your community was amazing," Ming said after the two returned to her Orlando, Fla., home Friday evening. "I know everyone who was involved worked so hard to find and catch her."
Ming and her husband were driving through Jackson County early in the morning June 13 after visiting relatives in Kilgore, Texas. While in Texas, Ming also picked up Candy, a 6-pound poodle her mother had given her as a gift.
Dog gets loose during break
The couple stopped at the Interstate 10 welcome center in Gautier to stretch and let the dog get some exercise. Candy got loose and despite a long search, they were unable to find her. Ming made the difficult decision to continue without her new dog.
"I cried and cried, but I was not going to give up," she said. "My mother and I prayed every day that God would send angels to protect and help find Candy, and that's just what happened."
Ming gave her contact information to Pascagoula and Gautier animal control offices, as well as the welcome center security, and headed home.
Gautier animal control officer Tony Malis made six trips to the welcome center but finally caught Candy on Thursday.
"We were all in this together," he said. "I couldn't have done this without the help of the security officers. We were also very fortunate that she didn't get hit by a vehicle or caught by a larger animal."
Malis and the security officers had tried to catch Candy, but she was too scared to go to anyone. She ran through traffic into the I-10 median, and up and down the interstate trying to get away, so they backed off for the day. On Thursday, the security officers reported she had run into a tool shed and they would keep her confined until Malis got there. Candy was very frightened and had lost some weight, but she was finally safe.
Ming drove the 500 miles back to Gautier to pick up Candy.
"The shelter staff took such good care of her," Ming said. "They even held her in the cat area so she wouldn't be scared of the other dogs.
"I can't express how grateful I am to have her back and for the effort everyone put in to make it happen."