The search for a family pet that went missing after looking for its companion has ended tragically for an Avon Lake family.
The Worcester family of Avon Lake received notice from the Avon Lake Service Department that their 9-year-old Pomeranian/Poodle named PJ was hit by a truck on July 17, on SR 83 northbound and was killed instantly.
Unfortunately, word did not get back to the Worcaster family for seven days.
“We conducted an exhaustive search for PJ since noticing her missing early Tuesday afternoon,” Barb Worcester, PJ’s owner, said. “The first call we placed was to the They were very thorough and took a detailed description of the dog, then checked with the Kennel and told us that they would let us know instantly if they heard any news. We specifically asked the dispatch officer if anyone reported a dog hit by a car. She said, ‘not that we’ve been notified.’ Therefore, we had hope.”
The family believed the dog might have wandered off in search of its companion of 9 years, Mojo, who was put down due to illness two weeks earlier. Word of the missing dog spread via websites.
“For seven days, family, friends and pet lovers all over Northeast Ohio were either physically looking for PJ or posting notices via the social media channels in an attempt to help us locate our pet,” Worcester said.
The dog’s body was recovered by the soon after it was hit, but the department’s policy does not require it to notify the police department.
Service Department Director Tom Lescher said he was aware of Worcester’s concerns and said the issue is being addressed.
“We don’t have a policy in place,” Lescher said. “Right now, we don’t call police. If there’s a collar (on the animal) we’ll call the number on the collar.”
Lescher said the dog did have a collar, but not an ID tag. He said the situation was regrettable.
“We kept the dog for a whole day hoping someone would call in,” he said. “But in this weather, we can only keep it so long.”
At Worchester’s suggestion, the Service Department is now considering a policy where the police would be contacted if a deceased domestic animal were picked up.
The policy comes too late for the Worcester family.
“We just lost PJs sister only four weeks prior to kidney cancer, and the loss of a second pet was unbearable,” Barb Worcester said. "If only the Service Department had just called the police to say they removed a domestic animal, this all could have been avoided and we would have had immediate closure. The real tragedy is that her remains were simply thrown in the trash. We didn’t have the opportunity to cremate her as we did with her sister, Mojo. This is something that will haunt me for a long time.”
The change in policy came after Mayor Greg Zilka approved Worcester’s request to place “Missing/Reward” signs in the right of way of several city streets.
“He immediately gave us permission to place signs at and other areas for one week,” she said.
A Service Department worker saw the signs and notified the family, returning the dog’s collar.
“I completely understand that the City is busy and I’m not trying to add to their long ‘to-do’ list. But a simple call to the police that a ‘domestic animal’ was killed would have been a true public service . . . especially when children are involved.”
Worcester thanked the community and city employees for helping search and solve the mystery of what happened to the dog.