BY REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — Around noon on July 8, a fuzzy snout poked through a bush on a Niskayuna bike trail, ending a multiday search effort for a family pet that had people all over town on the lookout.
BC, a skittish, border collie-mix, was on the run for a few days after he escaped from the Aqueduct Animal Hospital on July 5.
Dr. Matthew Pike, veterinarian at the hospital, said the 30-pound dog chewed through a barrier during outdoor playtime.
“The dog was here for daycare several times a week. We were working with the dog, and the dog was becoming less skittish with our care and attention,” he said. “We don’t know why all of a sudden this dog decided to get out.”
Motivation for bolting
His owner later shed some light on a possible motive: BC, a former stray, has shotgun pellets embedded in his body, meaning he was once shot before he was rescued. She thinks Fourth of July explosions reminded him of being shot and spurred him to shred the fence.
Pike said a monitor was outside watching the dogs play, but was not able to catch the collie mix when it bolted.
BC was at the hospital for boarding while his owners, Pamela Bays and Stephan Prieba, were on vacation in Germany. The husband and wife cut their trip short to come and search for BC after receiving a call from the animal hospital informing them of their pet’s escape.
“It was heartbreaking,” Bays said. “He’s a family dog. I was the decision factor of wanting to get the dog, but my husband loves him just as much. He’s been out looking for him too.
“We’ve barely slept in the last couple of days,” she added the morning of July 8, before her search concluded. “We’re just taking vacation days off work, wandering around, hoping he’ll come, see us or hear us.”
The Glenville couple weren’t the only ones out looking for a streak of black-and-white fur in the foliage. Along with staff members from the animal hospital, Sherry Pederquist of Good Shepherd K9 Rescue spent several days out searching, too.
“I originally rescued him from the South, and he was a shy dog back then,” Pederquist said. “I had him for four years, rehabilitating him. [Bays’] was the best home I could find for him, and the only one I would adopt to. She’s given him a fabulous home.”
The dog was seen several times in the Niskayuna area before Bays finally recovered him. A man walking his dogs along the Mohawk Bike Trail near Blatnick Park spotted BC and called Bays.
BC was especially difficult to catch because the dog is nervous under the best of circumstances, so only his owners and acquaintances could actively search for him. While looking for the dog, Bays asked that no one try to call or approach the dog, who would become startled and run.
“If you see him, just immediately call one of us and detail where you saw him, what direction he was going, what he was doing,” she said. “Try and be as specific to the place as possible.”
The tipster who helped find BC followed that advice to the letter.
“He saw the posters and called and told us he was walking his dogs and BC had gone up to him and, of course, immediately ran away again,” Bays said.
“We went there. We sat there for about two hours,” she continued. “We were just about to give up and leave when Sherry [Pederquist] saw his nose poking out of the bushes on the trail.”
To avoid scaring the dog off once more, Bays laid on the ground and gently called him until he approached her.
The family reunion in Blatnick Park ended a fairly impressive local search and rescue effort.
Before BC was caught, Pike said the animal hospital was doubling down on search efforts by hiring a nonprofit to create a scent trail to a humane trap for the dog. The trap would have been a cage with food, water and the scent of home. If BC stepped inside, he would have triggered a door, which would quickly shut.
Pike said the nonprofit had already been hired when Pederquist and Bays found the dog, so the fee paid by the hospital became a donation, instead. The hospital also posted 250 fliers around town and its staff personally helped to search for BC.
“As soon as the dog got out, [it was] all hands on deck: myself, my staff, my 7-year-old son. We were out all day Sunday [July 5],” Pike said.
In fact, Pike himself spotted BC that day and tried to call the dog. Unfortunately, nervous and skittish, BC bolted.
No one was sure whether the dog, a former stray, would be willing to return to his owners, so his eventual homecoming was a huge relief. He returned with a small fracture in his back leg, which a vet visit revealed would heal on its own in due time.
“I’m so happy,” Bays said after she and BC were reunited.