LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A couple is thanking the community for helping find their lost dog, Zeynah, saying she wouldn't have survived without the overwhelming response.
Zeynah escaped Jan. 26 through a broken gate in her backyard. She was found Feb. 1 after nearly a week in snow storms and bitterly cold temperatures.
As the days went by, her owners, Chalyse Weiss-Brinkman and Corey Mullins, felt more and more hopeless.
"I was honestly grieving," Weiss-Brinkman says. "I spent several days just crying and driving."
The couple posted about Zeynah on social media sites like Facebook, Reddit and Nextdoor.
Katie Smith even contacted them through Craigslist after she saw a car hit Zeynah near Columbian Park.
"And I saw her kind of limping, kind of going off the road ... I said to myself, 'I'm not going to let this dog go. I'm going to make sure I find their owner,'" Smith says.
The posts exploded with hundreds of shares, comments and sightings, spurring a community-wide search consisting of dozens of people forming a defacto search and rescue team.
Mullins compiled all the sightings on a map showing Zeynah's path across Lafayette.
"Just knowing how she is, you wouldn't have ever thought she would have made it that far or that long," Mullins says.
Sean Henady volunteered his drones and thermal cameras. He's helped families search for loved ones for the past 15 years.
"This was above and beyond and quite exceptional as far as the response from the community," Henady says. "You usually don't have this type of response at all."
Lesley Dause spent her nights, weekends and even lunch breaks looking for Zeynah after spotting the dog near her apartment complex.
"Just wanted to make sure it got home," Dause says. "It was cold outside and worried about it and lots of prayers and lots of miles of just going a searching for it."
Animal control officers finally corralled Zeynah, injured and exhausted, near a home in the Columbian Park area.
"We're so, so grateful to have her back and just the people," Weiss-Brinkman says. "There's so many good people out there."
Veterinarians say they might have to amputate Zeynah's paw due to nerve damage. She's also recovering from a fractured toe and abrasions on her face.