A local search-and-rescue dog is looking dashing today while sporting a new harness from an anonymous donor.
On Saturday, Moxxii’s handler Angela Lavergne, was heartbroken to find the dog’s old harness stolen from the Pet-A-Palooza festival.
The specialized repelling harness is used in Moxxii’s search-and-rescue training and work, and has a price tag upwards of $800, but for Lavergne, the real loss was emotional.
“The harness had badges sewn onto it, gifted to us from a military member down at the base,” said Lavergne, who is the head trainer for the Search and Rescue Dogs Association of Victoria (SARDAV). “He wore them overseas in Iraq and Iran, so they’re irreplaceable.”
The harness was one of several items stolen from the two-day festival at St. Ann’s Academy over the weeknd, including embroidered dog collars, a blue suitcase, metal tote bins and more. After the thefts, Lavergne put out a public plea for information.
She added that when she tried to train Moxxii without the harness, the German shepherd was unfocused and the session wasn’t going well.
“I was in a bit of a panic,” Lavegne said. “The harness for Moxxii is imperative.”
But last night Lavergne got a pleasant surprise; an anonymous donor put forward the funds to buy Moxxii a new harness from specialty producer, Cerberus K9 Solutions. The company gave Lavergne and Moxxii a new harness, and then turned around and donated the funds to SARDAV to go toward training.
“It was a complete surprise,” Lavergne said. “It was beyond words, actually.”
Lavergne is very grateful for the donations, and to everyone for spreading the word, but is still hoping to find the old vest because of its sentimental value.
She has patrolled several neighbourhoods around town and asked locals for information, but so far hasn’t found anything. Lavergne has even cancelled an upcoming camping trip in order to set time aside to do more searching.
“I just really hope it doesn’t end up in the garbage,” Lavergne said.
Anyone with information on the missing harness, or on other items stolen from Pet-A-Palooza is asked to call the Victoria Police non-emergency line at 250-995-7654 or report anonymously with the Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.