7 min read

Dog Can't Believe She's Seeing Family Again After 28 Days Lost In The Woods

“No amount of words can express what it felt like to walk through that door and see this dog throw herself at her family."

Justin Scott works as an EMT, and one day he responded to an incredibly difficult call where one of his friends ended up passing away. In the aftermath, he was struggling to cope and knew he desperately needed help — and that’s when Shelby came into his life. Scott adopted Shelby to be his service dog, and from that moment on, everything was so much better thanks to her. 

“I looked at her still in the shelter parking lot and told her, ‘I saved you and now I need you to save me,’ and she did,” Scott wrote on a Facebook post about Shelby. “She pulled me out of the grips of hell. She’s my best friend and my shelter from the storm.”

For the Fourth of July, Justin and his family decided to go camping in the Eastern Sierras of California, six hours away from their home. While they were hanging out at the campsite, Shelby got spooked by something and slipped out of her collar — and then disappeared into the wilderness

Shelby’s family searched and searched for her, but to no avail. They even set traps and waited near them, and watched from their car as bears investigated the traps. Poor Shelby was completely lost somewhere out in the wild and yet her family refused to give up on her. Shelby had saved her dad from so much pain, and now it was his turn to save her again. 

dog missing for 28 days
Babs Fry

After she had been missing for 13 days, Shelby’s family decided to contact A Way Home For Animals, a nonprofit that helps families find their missing pets. Babs Fry, the founder of the organization, drove out to the area in hopes that she could help reunite Shelby with her worried family, but right from the start, she knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task. 

“Through communicating with everyone in the area, signs, camp host and general store we were able to make sure that anyone that saw the dog knew exactly who to call,” Fry told The Dodo. “As a result we received a call the morning after I arrived that Shelby had been seen 3 and a half miles south. I immediately evaluated the area for probable food source, water source and safe place to be unseen so I could set the five traps I had available to me.” 

Fry waited days for Shelby to emerge and wander into one of the traps, but she never did. She then received a call that Shelby had been spotted elsewhere, heading out into the night to forage for food. Fry sprang into action and placed a trap near where Shelby had been seen as quickly as she could, and within 45 minutes, Shelby was safely inside the trap. 

dog missing for 28 days
Babs Fry

Fry was so relieved that Shelby had finally been found, but no one was as relieved or overjoyed as Shelby’s family … 

… who completely broke down with happiness as soon as Shelby was in their arms again. 

“No amount of words can express what it felt like to walk through that door and see this dog throw herself at her family and watch her family embrace her with love,” Fry said. 

In total, Shelby was lost and had survived on her own for 28 days. So many people would have given up after a handful of days, but after everything that Shelby has done for Scott and his family, they knew there was no way they could ever stop looking for her. Their love and dedication paid off in the end, and now Shelby is back at home where she belongs, healthy and happy. 

“I am still crying,” Fry said. “The story from start to finish is an amazing one. The commitment level of Shelby's owners was by far beyond anything I have ever experienced.”