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Husband and wife travel five hours to reunite with missing beagle

Holly Nelms • Apr 2, 2017 at 11:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Losing a pet in a familiar place is difficult enough. Losing one in an unfamiliar city is far more complicated.

That is what happened to Chris and Lindsey Wagner last week, when they lost their beagle, Lucy, during their travels through the Tri-Cities. But with the help of many strangers from the Kingsport area, the couple were reunited with Lucy within 48 hours, after they drove from five hours away to rescue her.

“We just didn’t give up,” said Virginia Roseman, a volunteer with the SBK Kingsport Animal Shelter and one of the people who helped find Lucy. “It was just perseverance and our care for animals.”

Roseman said the Wagners travel across the country for their jobs, so they do not have a permanent residence. They found Lucy as a stray about two months ago, and she quickly settled in as part of the family, bonding closely with the couple’s other dog, Ruth.

As they were traveling through the Tri-Cities to Williamsburg, Virginia, the couple were separated from Lucy last Monday when they stopped at the Cracker Barrel on Airport Parkway.

When the couple let their two dogs out to use the bathroom, Lucy was frightened by a charter bus, and Chris lost his grip on her leash. Lucy ran off, leash trailing behind her, and soon the couple had completely lost sight of her.

After searching for Lucy for around three hours with no luck, Roseman said the couple were forced to continue with their travels. As they got back on the road, they posted to their social media accounts and notified the local animal shelters, hoping someone would find Lucy.

Roseman shared the couple’s post to the animal shelter’s Facebook page the same day. She said the response to the post was overwhelming, with hundreds of people offering to keep an eye out for Lucy.

“It must’ve been shared hundreds of times,” Roseman said. “The whole community came together to find this dog.”

Last Wednesday, Roseman was having dinner with her friend, Pam Wheaton, when she decided to check the animal shelter’s Facebook messages. After seeing a message that Lucy had been sighted near the place she ran off, Roseman and Wheaton set out to look for her, and Roseman notified the owners of the news.

As Roseman and Wheaton headed to search for Lucy, the Wagners began their five hour trip back to the Tri-Cities to help with the search.

“It renewed their hope that the dog had been sighted,” Roseman said. “They said they weren’t leaving this time until they found her.”

After searching near Cracker Barrel and Hamrick’s, Roseman received another Facebook message that Lucy had been sighted near a house on Shipley Ferry Road. With the help of Matthew Bledsoe, who lives at the residence, they were able to find Lucy and corral her into a dog pen after a search lasting almost three hours.

Roseman said Bledsoe kept the dog until her owners got there between 11 p.m. and midnight.

“(Lucy) seemed interested in finding safety,” Roseman said. “The poor little dog was scared to death. She had been in the woods for two days.”

After reuniting with Lucy, the Wagners posted an update to social media, thanking all of those in this area who helped find her.

“We cannot and will not ever be able to thank the wonderful souls enough for helping us find our girl, each and every one of you, no matter how large or small you feel your part was,” the post reads. “It all made a difference!”

For Roseman, the experience was something she’ll never forget.

“This town has some people who don’t treat animals well, and then there are people like us who love animals and care about them,” Roseman said. “It just touched us that so many people were interested.”

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