Police in Saco, Maine, are searching for a possible dog-napper, after a German Shepherd went missing Monday and was found dead nearly 30 miles from home.
"She was a beautiful dog," Doreen Metcalf said of her 5-year-old Uhdelle, one of 15 dogs she keeps at the Timber Ridge Farm in Saco.
On Monday, Metcalf took a pack of dogs, including Uhdelle, on a trail ride near her home. It wasn’t unusual for Uhdelle to go off trail and into the woods, but she always made her way home. Monday was different.
"I immediately suspected something really wrong here," she said.
Because all of her dogs wear GPS tracking collars, when Metcalf reviewed Uhdelle’s tracks, it showed she was already miles away. It showed the dog traveling quickly, stopping at a nearby home, then ending at the Saco River, near a library in Hollis. Metcalf feared the worst: that her dog had been dumped in the river.
But later Monday, Uhdelle was spotted nearly 30 miles away from home: near Egypt Road in Gray.
"She was running in and out of traffic, on Egypt Road," said Gray’s Animal Control Officer, Mikayla Trafford. "She was frantic, and exhausted."
Trafford tried for hours, but couldn’t trap the dog. That night, she got the news: Uhdelle had been accidentally hit by a car, and died.
"Yesterday was particularly hard," said Metcalf. "The Animal Control Officer brought Uhdelle home, and I had to bury her."
Now, Uhdelle’s owner is hoping for justice. She is working with Saco and Buxton Police to find out if someone abducted and abandoned the dog.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have seen the all-black German Shepard between Buxton and Gray Monday. Police suspect she was in the car between 10 a.m. and noon.
The dog's owner believes the person removed the GPS collar and tossed it in the river to cover his or her tracks – but is confident she knows who did it, based on where the GPS shows Uhdelle stopped.
"I believe this person was waiting for an opportunity to do this to one of my dogs," she said, declining to elaborate, in fear that she would compromise the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call Saco Police at 207-284-4535 or Buxton Police at 207-929-5151.