Four years ago, a little dog named Shadow disappeared from a travel trailer at Rivers Edge RV Park in Fairbanks. Owners Richard and Patty Evans, of Las Vegas, and a crew of dedicated local volunteers never stopped searching for the chihuaha-terrier mix, who is now about 13 years old.
They follow every lead. This month, they even drove to Nebraska thinking their beloved pet had been located. Sadly, it appears that lead may have been a scam, putting them back onto an emotional roller coaster.
“We’ve had people try to scam us before, but not like this,” said Patty Evans.
This time, a woman called from Nebraska.
“She was such a nice person,” Evans said. “It didn’t sound like anything was awry. She said she was a nurse.”
So excited at the possibility of reuniting Shadow, Evans didn’t ask for her full name or for where she worked. The woman said she adopted Shadow from a local Petco store. Shadow has a locator chip and the microchip company got the two connected.
The couple jumped in their car and drove 1,300 miles to Nebraska, to discover they couldn’t find the woman or any Petco store that had sponsored Shadow’s adoption.
Maybe the lady changed her mind and decided to keep Shadow? Maybe it was a scam from the start. Patty Evans just doesn’t know, but she will not give up, nor will many local Fairbanksans who have helped her over the years.
“After all these years, people still send me photos, call me, text me,” Evans said.
When Shadow disappeared that fall day four years ago, Evans canceled the rest of her vacation and spent time instead searching for the dog.
“It was heartbreaking when we didn’t find Shadow,” she said. “We should have. We looked in all the area we thought he would be.”
She ended up returning to Fairbanks multiple times to continue the search.
That first year, her heart sank when it snowed 14 inches and there was still no sign of Shadow.
“Somebody had to take him in,” she said. “He couldn’t survive this. I prayed and prayed. I always felt in my heart that the lord was not done with Shadow or his story. Some caretaker has to have him. God has a plan for everything.”
The local volunteers who rushed to her aid over the years provided housing, transportation, live traps with fresh food, airline miles for plane tickets, expertise to create a Facebook page and strong friendship.
“It just makes me cry there are so many good people out there, who stand with you when someone who is not so good tries to scam you,” she said.
The reason they thought this most recent call was legitimate was that the lady who called also contacted the microchip company, who informed her Shadow had owners in Alaska.
“We forgot we did put that information on flyers,” Evans recalled.
Evans was so excited she called all those local volunteers to share what she thought was good news.
“Then they were all brokenhearted, too,” she said.
“It would be such a miracle if we found Shadow and someone would be willing to give him up,” she said. “He would kiss all those volunteers who helped look for him. everyone just loves him so much. It would be awesome.”
She thinks he’s probably still in Fairbanks and hopes people will keep Shadow in mind, in case they spot him anywhere.
Anyone having information about Shadow can call Patty Evans at 702-339-2945 or Richard Evans at 702-496-3918. Follow the search for Shadow on the Shadow Search Alaska Facebook page.
They offer a $1,500 reward for his safe return.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.