TOWSON, Md. (WMAR) — A North Carolina man is reunited with his two dogs that got lost following a car accident last week in Montgomery County.
"It's amazing to have them back," said owner Brian Shelton.
On December 28, Shelton and his two rescue dogs Ena and Caleb were driving on I-270 in Hyattstown, headed to New York, when he got into a crash.
While Shelton was dealing with the accident, his dogs got scared and ran out of the car. Shelton was blown away by the immediate support from the community.
The Towson-based Lost Animal Resource Group found out about the incident and gathered countless volunteers to launch an all out search.
They handed out fliers, put out food, traps and cameras, used scent tracking dogs, and even drones.
"The things they teach, the resources they can drawl on... having them there is just invaluable," said Shelton.
The group's president Bob Swensen also taught Shelton what not to do.
"Most people when they have a lost dog or see a lost pet, they will go out calling and searching and that's generally the worst thing you can do," said Swensen.
Swensen said lost pets go into survival mode and knowing how to communicate calming signals is key.
"You have to be low to the ground, have treats, turn away so you aren't facing the animal," said Swensen.
Shelton used these techniques Sunday, when he spotted Ena first, and Calab a few hours later. He was able to make them comfortable enough to approach him so he could leash them.
"I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried when I caught them both," said Shelton.
After a long and tiring holiday, Brian and his pups are doing well.
"They had some ticks on them, especially Caleb, that we took care of and they got a good bath last night," said Shelton.
They'll be seen by a vet in Maryland before making the journey home to North Carolina.
Shelton is incredibly thankful to everyone who helped make it possible.
"I hadn't lost hope or anything but as the days went on, I was concerned with weather and the cold and it was just incredible to get them both back," said Shelton.
The Lost Animal Resource Group, or LARG, is a network of trappers, trackers and volunteers from Maryland to North Carolina. They were officially created just a few months ago and are still waiting on their official nonprofit status. Swensen said he felt compelled to start a formal organization after seeing a lot more lost pets posted online and going through it himself.
His former foster escaped and he searched for her for four months before officially adopting her.
"The fear, the desperation of losing a pet, a loved one, really gave me an idea of what people go through and I don't want people to go through that," said Swensen.
He said if you are looking for a lost pet, do no chase after or call them, put up lots of posters and post all over social media, lay out scent articles, food and traps and reach out to local groups.