Tail of teamwork
MUPD and students work together to rescue puppy from bitter cold, snow and reunite her with owner
Story by: Sara Diedrich
By late January, Katherine Matteson had nearly given up hope that Mia would come home.
The 6-month-old Havanese had escaped from her Columbia back yard two weeks earlier and the weather had been treacherous: 16 inches of snow and a polar vortex.
“How could a little dog survive?” said Matteson, a junior in health science at the University of Missouri. That’s exactly what Riley Girardier, another MU student, wondered when he spotted Mia darting across the snow on a bone-chilling Jan. 30. It was 11 p.m., and Girardier was on his way to pick up a friend at the Hearnes Center parking lot. He noticed the puppy scrambling through the dark near Memorial Stadium.
Girardier stopped and whistled for the 4-pound canine, but it was no use. Mia was on the run.
Not willing to give up, Girardier returned to the stadium with his friend, MU junior Trevor Koelling, and together they tried coaxing Mia to safety with chicken strips. But Mia wasn’t having it, and slipped into the stadium and out of reach.
Finally, the students called for help and Officers John Hayes and Susan Huang of the University of Missouri Police Department, arrived on the scene. Once inside the stadium, the officers cornered Mia behind an ice machine. They scooped her up and wrapped the shivering puppy in a blanket from one of the students.
Officers then rushed Mia to the MU Veterinary Health Center where she was found to be in surprisingly good health. But she didn’t have a chip to identify an owner. So Officer Hayes, who was already calling her Elsa from the movie “Frozen,” took her home for the night.
“She is a real snuggle bug,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Jennifer Perry uploaded Mia’s picture to a website for lost and found pets in Columbia. In the morning, there was a hit. A friend of Matteson’s saw the post and called her.
“I saw the picture and said, ‘Yes, that’s my dog!’ ” Matteson said.
Later that day, Matteson reunited with Mia at the MU police department where Girardier and Koelling were on hand for the celebration along with Officers Hayes and Huang. Mia even received special grooming from Lizzi & Rocco’s Natural Pet Market for the special occasion.
Matteson, who had Mia for only a week before she escaped, was happy to be reunited with her puppy.
“Thank you for working together,” she said. “I’m happy to get her back.”