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TAYLORSVILLE — Utah Highway Patrol troopers shut down Interstate 215 over the weekend to rescue a dog who ran away from the organization trying to find her a permanent home.
It was supposed to be a routine drop-off at the VCA All Pet Animal Hospital in Taylorsville after 68 dogs were transported there from high-kill animal shelters in New Mexico and Juarez, Mexico.
“You have to remember these dogs are super scared,” said Sara Buyers with the Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS).
Foster parents were there to greet the dogs in the parking lot. But after a long drive, the volunteers were struggling to get one dog out of her kennel. Then, just as they planned to bring her inside, she bolted out into the parking lot and around buildings with 15 people chasing after her.
“Once she started running, she was dead set on getting out of here,” Buyers said.
Minutes later, the chihuahua mix was on the I-215 onramp and headed for the freeway.
UHP received several calls from concerned drivers just as they were clearing a nearby crash. It was cold outside, the snow falling off and on and it was icy on the roads in some areas.
“They opted to do what’s called a slowdown where they kind of weave in front of traffic,” said Sergeant Mary Kaye Lucas.
Lucas’ troopers soon found the dog and cornered her near a sound wall.
“Poor dog. I think she was exhausted and scared by the time we got to her,” she said. “I could tell once they got her out, she was going to be a handful.”
With traffic no longer an issue, Lucas drove the wrong way down I-215 to meet up with her troopers who hadn’t been able to get the dog under control and into the car.
Poor dog. I think she was exhausted and scared by the time we got to her.
–Sgt. Mary Kaye Lucas, UHP
But after evading capture and disaster on the freeway, the dog met her match with Lucas, who happened to have just the right tools – a leash to make sure she wouldn’t escape and a wool blanket.
“I just had a blanket and a leash,” she said. “I kind of scooped her up with the blanket and she calmed right down.”
Video from inside the cruiser shows Lucas carrying the freezing dog back to her car and gently loading her into the back seat. It was just the sort of outcome CAWS volunteers hadn’t expected but were hoping for.
“I honestly thought when she pulled that she was bringing her as a dead dog that they had pulled off the freeway,” Buyers said. Imagine her delight when she saw the dog in the backseat and learned what troopers had done to make the save.
“That was awesome of them,” Buyers said. “Above and beyond in our opinion.”
CAWS is still searching for a permanent home for the dog, but they think they’ve found a name for her.
“Freeway,” Buyers said. “Or possibly Bolt.”