Dogged search a success

Bailee, an 11-month-old Lab-hound mix,is safe in the arms of Lori Miller, of Little Rock, Arkansas, at the Kernstown Battlefield on Thursday. Bailee was found Tuesday night following a 17-day search around the battlefield. Kevin Green/Daily

KERNSTOWN – After an exhaustive and extensive 17-day search, an 11-month-old Lab-hound mix named Bailee was found Tuesday at the Kernstown Battlefield near Winchester.

Bailee had gone missing after running away from a Kernstown motel on Aug. 23. On Thursday, Bailee’s owner, members of the Kernstown Battlefield Association and search volunteers gathered for a celebration luncheon.

Lori Miller, of Little Rock, Arkansas, rescues and fosters dogs like Bailee and puts them up for adoption. Before Bailee got loose, a company called ArkanPaws was transporting her – and several other dogs – to Rhode Island for possible adoption.

“The dogs were being fed … in the van they were being transported in,” Miller said, noting that Bailee got nervous after a couple of dogs engaged in a friendly scuffle and then ran off into the nearby woods.

What ensued was a large-scale, 17-day search for Bailee that included many residents from the Northern Shenandoah Valley as well as West Virginia.

Front Royal resident Kim Adams helped with the search effort through a Facebook group called I-81 Transports — http://on.fb.me/1J0VdRK.  Group members volunteer to shuttle rescued and adopted dogs to their new owners.

Adams said she found out about Bailee through a friend and so she and other volunteers in the group jumped in to help in the search.

Joanne White, of Stephenson, is the group’s administrator on Facebook. She said their search effort included printing posters, searching the Kernstown Battlefield and word of mouth to nearby residents.

The search also included members of the Kernstown Battlefield Association, such as Dave Jenkins, who is on the association’s board of directors.

“I’ve got some night vision binoculars, so I brought those up on a couple of occasions, so that we could see at night,” Jenkins said, noting that he also attempted to find Bailee using field glasses during the day.

The search group used a variety of methods – from food stations, trail cameras to track her movements and five live, non-lethal trap cages, some of which were loaned by the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter in Edinburg, to find Bailee.

During the search, Miller and company dealt with several close calls and sightings of Bailee in and around the battlefield.

Jenkins, a Stephens City resident, said, “I saw her out in the field – where the main search had been all along – on the other side of the stone wall near (Hoge) Creek.”

Miller headed toward that direction, but Bailee had disappeared back into the woods. Miller estimated there were around six sightings and near misses during the 17-day search.

After nine days of searching, Miller said she decided to travel back to Arkansas to pick up Scooby, a 6-year-old shepherd-hound mix, and Porgy, a 3-year-old border collie mix. She then drove straight back – 14 hours – to resume the search for Bailee.

“We hadn’t had any luck with trying to catch (Bailee) any other way,” Miller said. “(Scooby and Porgy) are my two larger dogs from Arkansas, and they are her pack.”

Miller then camped out on the battlefield in her car along with a dog pen with Scooby and Porgy in it in the hopes of drawing out Bailee.

Through footage on trail cameras set up at the food stations, Miller said the search group “determined that (Bailee) had one thoroughfare that she was going through.”

“So I decided to move my camp … over there,” Miller said. “The dogs and I were sleeping in the pen, and at about 10:50 p.m., the dogs started alerting me that there was something nearby.”

While this could have been any animal, Miller said she saw that it was Bailee after she turned on a flashlight – and that Bailee was in good condition.

Stephen Vaughn, treasurer for the battlefield association, also assisted in the search and said that he believes that Bailee was simply searching for socialization with other dogs.

“What allowed them to finally catch (Bailee) was the dog’s social nature – wanting to be with the other two dogs,” Vaughn said.

He added that he has never seen a dog search like this one on the Kernstown Battlefield before. “I’ve never seen a lady as determined as Lori (Miller) to get this dog back. I mean, she was just tenacious.”

Miller said she will be returning to Arkansas, and plans to keep Bailee rather than attempt to put her back up for adoption.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com