A Great Dane named Zaria has been surviving on Cranberry Lake in Harrison for 16 days.
“Initially we got the call last Wednesday, and the dog has been on the island prior to that,” said Clare County Animal Control Officer Bob Dodson.
Dodson said Zaria only traveled about 200 ft.
“What we were told was that the dog got off its collar that was on a lead at nighttime,” he said. “She took off running, didn’t know which way it was running, headed down towards the lake, hit the lake, and we apparently figured it swam across the canal and ended up on the island.”
Dodson said the owners have signed ownership of Zaria to the Clare County Animal Shelter.
Dodson, along with Animal Control Officer Westfall, tried to capture Zaria on the island, but she escaped each time.
“We didn’t want to push her,” Dodson said. “Our goal wasn’t to make her run away from us as much as try to get her to the shoreline because if you push her too hard, with her being dehydrated and malnourished, she might have a heart attack. We don’t want her to pass away after all these efforts.”
Moore’s Lost K9 Search and Recovery were told of Zaria’s situation by their followers on Facebook on Tuesday.
“We came here, we set up a strategic plan with animal control, and that’s when we went in together,” said Moore’s Lost K9 Search and Recovery Owner Beth Moore. “We‘re like, ok we’re assisting them, it’s not our case by any means.”
There are two traps on the island, and Moore’s Lost K9 Search and Recovery has cameras where they can watch for Zaria by the traps.
“Our trap is built off a sensor beam, so we have, since she’s a larger, lankier dog, we have already set the traps sensors to the back, so that way when she does break the beam the door doesn’t hit her, it just slams shut,” said Moore. “It’s a self-maintaining system, and she’ll stay in there until we get her out.”
But what’s making this process so long is the state Zaria is in.
Like most lost dogs, Zaria is in a psychological state called “survival mode”.
“Survival mode is what we classify as ‘deer in the headlights’,” Moore said. “They see you, all they’re hearing is distortion, they’re not hearing their name, and you’re a threat. All humans at that point are a threat or a predator to them, and they keep running.”
Even though Zaria is in this state, she’s become curious of the traps on the island.
“She’s investigated it a couple of times, she’s getting a little more confident every time she goes near it,” Moore said. “We don’t know whether it’s the food motivation, or whether it’s because we took our canine trackers in with us. What she was more interested in, in our opinion, was the dogs at that point than the food.”
Once Zaria’s trapped – there’s a plan in place to get her back to her usual self.
“I have a vet lined up that will get to see her right away, and then I also have a foster lined up that knows the process of slow feedings,” said Dodson.
Both organizations say they’ve been overwhelmed with the support they’ve received with this rescue, including Frank Johnson opening his home to them and taking them to the island on his boat, and Harrison Lumber for donating a load of pallets to make a bridge into the island.
“It’s just a slow process and it’s going to take a long time to get her back up to herself, you got to gain trust again with her,” said Dodson. “She’s got to gain that human trust one more time, and hopefully after that she’s good to go.”
While Zaria is out on the island, Clare County Animal Control and Moore’s Lost K9 Search and Recovery are asking the public to stay away from the island, as anyone can easily spook her.
Right now, any donations that go toward Zaria will follow her after she’s been trapped and moved to a foster home.
Moore’s Lost K9 Search and Recovery is also looking for a donation of a GPS tracking collar for Zaria to wear after she’s been rescued.