Most Recent Possible Sightings

Confirmed Sighting: May 9 2012, north Chevy Chase. [2011]December 11, neighborhood outside Colombia Country Club. October 20, Colombia Country Club. September 14, Candy Cane City and into Rock Creek Park. September 7 or 8, Brookville and Shepherd in Chevy Chase, and then back south on Connecticut to Chevy Chase circle (where she is getting water, we believe). August 28th, on Thornapple in Chevy Chase, and then headed south on Connecticut!

(For other sightings, see archive at the bottom of the page.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sam's Explanation

I asked Sam to write up an answer about why it is so hard to bring Sass and Olivia home.  This weekend L is coordinating flyering for both dogs, so if you have the time, send an email to!

Here's the expert answer - this is Sam's full time job, and she's closed the case on hundreds (thousands) of animals:

The reason dogs like Sassafras and Olivia (see her blog here), termed in the industry as "wandering dogs", are so difficult to catch is that they do not have a single central location that they use as a den, but instead just rest wherever they are when they get tired.  They develop large circuitous territories that they move around in and are fearful of people so they avoid contact with strangers.  They are similar in description to other types of dogs so the owners are frustrated by many false sightings.  Sassafras, being a social girl with other dogs, apparently also "packs up" with other dogs, beagles in particular and is not recognized as the missing dog because they are being seen together.  Wandering dogs are frequently out for months and sometimes even years because they are extremely resourceful at finding food sources and water sources throughout their territory and move from one to another along their way.  It may be days or even weeks between visits to one particular feeding site so getting ahead of them with food is nearly impossible unless you can find a location where you can leave the food and camera for weeks or months.  This takes patience, dedication, and a lot of community cooperation which is hard to achieve as most people don't want food left near their home for long periods of time because it attracts vermin as well as stray animals.

These dogs are frequently caught by accident when they get into a yard or building that they cannot get out of before an observant human closes a gate or door to trap them inside.  Recently, a lab/bloodhound mix that was out for many months, found himself trapped by a quick thinking person who saw him inside the man's newly constructed home.  He was hiding in the upstairs bedroom when the homeowner came in to show friends the new house.  Because of the posters in the area he recognized the dog immediately and managed to corner him and keep him there until the volunteers were able to get over there and pick him up.

Other dogs continue to exist on their own until they are lured with food to one single location and then trapped with a humane trap of some kind.  The challenge with these dogs is to catch them before they get hit by a car which is always their greatest threat.  The key is to keep the dog's picture/posters in front of the community so that they are aware that the dog is in their neighborhood and will report if they see it.  This is the only way volunteers can monitor their movements in hope of getting ahead of them with a feeding station.


  1. Great idea to have Sam write this. After Thursday's track I had so many questions, and this post answers just about all of them. Thanks!

  2. Hi. I wanted to let u know of something I saw on pit bulls and parolees last season. they had a dog that was difficult to catch and basically they unfolded the feeding station that they had and tied a rope to the gate and stayed out of sight until they were in the inclosed part. I know it might b hard since no one knows when they may be around that area but it would b worth a shot. I'm sure animal planet has the episode on their website to see how they finally caught their dog

  3. It must be so frustrating to have so many sightings and yet no Sassafras. To see that dog running loose, and not one adult concerned is baffling. I have a example of just how unconcerned some people are:
    I was walking my dog (we live in the Northwest), and came upon a beagle loose. The dog seemed disorientated and tired, so I tested if it would be sociable enough to lead it with my dog. My dog had just been attacked by a Shiba Inu, so I thought if they didn't get along I'd come back for the beagle after dropping off my dog. The beagle was easy going so I managed to use the other end of the leash to lead it to my home.
    The dog had tags, but noone was answering. The address was nearby so my husband and I decided to drive to the tag's address with the dog. On the way there the dog threw up in our car as it was sooooo nervous. Not great, but I would be out of my mind if my dog was gone so we continued. On the way, to the dog's house, the owner responded. Yes, the dog was his, but he had moved and NOT updated it's tags. But what really floored me was the guy was at a movie, and DIDN'T want to leave to get his dog. We waited and waited, till the guy sent his girlfriend to pick up the dog. And after helping his dog, having it get sick in our car, getting the poor thing back to him, not even a thank you. I just felt really sorry for the beagle, as it was an older dog that was clearly not used to being out. But what is this world coming to that a pet owner won't put his selfishness aside to tend to his responsibility? And was the dog so expendable that he didn't want to miss a movie to retrieve it? Truly sad :( !!!

  4. I am helping with the search for Rachel, a dog missing in Fairfax for only two-and-a-half weeks. Although the names of Sassafras and Olivia were familiar to me before my friends lost their dog, suddenly I am devouring this information. I can't imagine how the hearts of pet owners must be breaking. Media-wise, you have done wonders with Sassafras and the possibility of her being sighted. I'd like to post Rachel's Facebook page URL here. I hope you can understand.