When Jennifer George visited her husband in Burlington, Iowa in 2015, she had no way of knowing what was in store for her. Her husband, BJ, was working on a fertilizer plant that was under construction and she wanted to spend time with him.
George brought Ginger, her Australian Shepherd dog, along for the trip. George had inherited Ginger from her mother, who’d recently passed away.
At some point during George’s visit, Ginger escaped.
Lost in an unfamiliar city, the Georges spared no expense in trying to track Ginger down. They spent hundreds of dollars in ads, enlisted the help of local citizens, and scoured the surrounding area for any sign of their pooch.
Sadly, their search was fruitless. George had to return to her life in Wyoming, leaving Ginger behind.
“Literally 15 minutes we were in the neighborhood looking and never saw a glimpse,” George said to KCRG.
For three years they lived without closure, unsure of what happened to their beloved family pet. In an ideal world, she would have been given a loving home with another family, but no one knew for certain.
Nobody could have predicted what would happen next.
Kandi Glick, who runs the Des Moines County Regional Humane Society, trapped a stray dog.
“We started getting a lot of calls saying there was a dog running loose in town,” Glick said TO KCRG.
Click eventually baited a trap with hot dogs near the car wash where the dog was said to have been spotted. Locals believed the pup was living in the nearby woods and surviving off of the car wash’s discarded trash and water at night.
“This is really funny to say, but McDonald’s saved her life. People dumped food at the car wash and it’s McDonald’s, it’s Taco Bell, it’s Burger King and she was digging every night in the trash,” Glick said.
“The water that people washed their cars with, it’s just amazing she survived – we don’t know how she did it.”
After she had the dog in her possession, Glick noticed that it was wearing a collar. She started scouring social media for any clues as to where the dog might have come from.
Then it clicked. Glick found one of the posts that George had made three years ago while looking for Ginger and contacted the family.
George was skeptical at first, but after seeing the collar, there was no doubt it was her dog.
“Her undercoat had grown out, she had a lot of matting on her and of course, after three years on a dog this age, her face has started to age … so she didn’t look like the same dog,” Glick said.
Ginger’s collar showed significant signs of wear, but the colors and design were still easily recognizable. Upon realizing it was her dog, George said she was speechless.
The George family happily made the trek out to Iowa to pick Ginger up, three years after being forced to return home without her. Within a minute of sniffing her old family, Ginger appeared to recognize them.
After spending so much time on the street, Ginger had a few medical issues that required veterinary attention, mainly the existence of heartworms. Fortunately, they are treatable, and Ginger will make a full recovery.
“What an amazing story of survival to share with all of you,” the Des Moines County Humane Society said on Facebook.
“She’s just an angel,” George said. “What she does … is she reunites families and she gave us back this dog that meant so much to us and without her people wouldn’t have these moments.”