WASHINGTON COUNTY – A week-long search for Hudson Raine, a 2-year-old German shepherd dog who went missing near Leeds, Utah, on Aug. 17, drew massive support from locals and culminated in a fortunate ending for all.
Dubbed “Huddie” by his rescuers, Hudson’s long journey began in an overcrowded animal shelter in Los Angeles, Calif., where he landed after being picked up as a stray. Just days before his scheduled euthanization, Steve Wenzel of Bozeman, Mont., learned about Huddie’s plight through a friend; immediately smitten by the dog’s photo, he contacted the shelter. Hudson was then placed in the home of Susan Fisher, a foster owner, and spent the next month recovering from the abuse and malnourishment he had suffered while wandering the streets. On Aug. 17, Wenzel traveled to Barstow, Calif., to pick him up.
Nearly halfway through the 1,000-mile drive home, Wenzel pulled into the Red Cliffs Recreation Area just outside Leeds, where he intended to spend the night. He slipped a collar and leash onto Hudson, no easy task given his apprehension from past restraining and beatings. Wenzel turned away momentarily while busy readying a small campsite — just long enough for the dog to chew through the inadequate leash and run for freedom.
After a short, panicked search, Wenzel called his wife, Susan Smiley-Wenzel, to report the bad news. At home in Bozeman, she turned to Facebook to ask for prayers and support.
“(We were) heartbroken and devastated,” she said.
Help came in the form of the Homeless Animal Rescue Team of Utah. Over a dozen HART members and concerned citizens met Wenzel at Red Cliffs the next morning to scour the area; and in the days following, Hudson’s face appeared on local television stations and countless posters. The search team notified police and park rangers, set up a tip line, arranged a reward and drove nonstop in hopes of spotting the runaway. On Aug. 20, a family friend of the Wenzels even hired a helicopter to fly over Dixie in search of Huddie.
The massive rescue effort, which prompted people as far away as Nebraska and Mississippi to get involved, continued for seven agonizing days; Wenzel was forced to return to Bozeman due to professional obligations. Hudson was sighted several times in the Leeds area and even running along Intrstate 15 but remained elusive, which Smiley-Wenzel attributed to the survival skills he adopted while living as a stray.
“He was scared of men and afraid to be caught and beaten or God knows what else had been done to him,” Smiley-Wenzel said.
In the evening of Aug. 24, Sandra Woodring Adams, who was helping with the rescue effort, received word that a family in Leeds had Hudson in their sights but was unsure of what to do next. By the time she and other volunteers arrived, he had bolted again. Frustrated, Adams started walking south, hunting through backyards.
Mere minutes later, she stumbled onto the incredible sight of the dog standing on the sidewalk with a teenage girl holding the remainder of his leash. The search team arrived soon after and loaded Hudson, emaciated and shaking with fright, into a truck. Then Adams made the jubilant calls to the Wenzels and Fisher, who broke into relieved tears, she said.
Hudson was admitted to the Washington Family Veterinary Clinic that night, where he remains while receiving treatment for dehydration, malnourishment and the effects of ingesting contaminated food and water during his ordeal; Adams said he is reportedly being a good boy. Once he has recovered, the Wenzels will return to St. George and finally take him to his new and last home. A donation site entitled We Love Hudsonhas been set up to assist him with his medical bills and other expenses.
Smiley-Wenzel said that while Hudson’s rescue was truly a miracle, it could not have happened without the selfless and unfailing support of the search team.
“We’re overwhelmed by the efforts of this community to come forward and help us find Hudson,” she said. “We are eternally grateful.”
“Catching this dog truly took a village (but) at the end of the day, it was a wonderful and special 17-year-old girl (whom) Huddie trusted to bring him in,” Adams said. “I hope to work with all of these great people again, but under better circumstances.”
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