A beloved service dog who’s well known as a greeter at a Santa Monica pet hospital has been found safe following a three-week search by hundreds of volunteers.
Her story captured the imaginations of thousands on social media because Lucy was a rescue who went on to work as a service dog.
Lucy was found abused and abandoned in 2013, and was taken in by veterinarian Antje Hinz and her boyfriend, Finn Egan.
“She was so scared if you tried to pet her she’d shake in the corner," Egan said.
But Lucy’s new family believed in her, and put her through agility and behavior classes. With a lot of love and affection, Lucy blossomed into a gentle giant. She developed a personality so sweet and so endearing, she became a service dog, helping her owner get through breast cancer.
"Lucy is my buddha. She is a peaceful and gentle creature and keeps me sane and is my helper at work," Hinz said.
So when Lucy ran away from her pet sitter’s Venice Beach home on Labor Day, the community rallied together to try and bring home the rehabbed pit bull who’d captured their hearts.
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Hundreds passed out fliers and started social media campaigns. Then, Monday night, after three long weeks, somebody spotted Lucy running through a Culver City neighborhood. They recognized her collar from the fliers.
Finn Egan rushed to the scene to see if it was Lucy
“I called her name and she ran into my arms,” said Egan. “Such a relief.”
Cell phone video captured the moment 4-year-old Lucy the pit bull was reunited with Hinz, who is a veterinarian and medical director at Westside Pet Clinic.
“She was trying to jump on me and licking my face.. she was so weak she couldn’t hold herself up really," Hinz said.
Tuesday afternoon, which happened to be Lucy's fourth birthday, dozens of volunteers who helped look for Lucy showed up at the Culver City pet hospital where she’s being treated for cuts, broken teeth, and a ten pound weight loss.
“She just brought so many people together looking for her,” said Hinz. “It’s like she was a symbol for all of us rescuing animals.”
Her owners said they still don’t know where she’s been, but they hope she’ll be back at work very soon.
Her owners also plan to start a nonprofit to help people find missing dogs. They will be posting information to their Facebook page soon as the nonprofit is operating.