McDonough resident, Judy Frank, said she was relieved when her dog was found alive and in good health after being lost for several weeks this winter.
Max, an 8-year-old German shepherd, was found by DeKalb County animal officials last week in Ellenwood, lying against a fence after an accidental escape from a Stockbridge veterinarian's office, Frank said.
"They found him, because he had his collar on, and they scanned his microchip," said Frank, a volunteer with the Henry County Humane Society in McDonough.
Frank said that had Max not been wearing a collar, or been implanted with a microchip, she might never have recovered him.
Frank said she took Max to the Hudson Bridge Animal Clinic in Stockbridge on Jan. 14, because he had an abscess tooth that needed to be removed. The dog stayed at the clinic overnight.
"He is very shy," she said. "He is not an outgoing German shepherd."
Jim Gay, business manager at the Hudson Bridge Animal Clinic, said a clinic official received a call from the facility's alarm company that night about the alarm going off.
Gay said workers believed, at the time, that a cat had likely set off the alarm.
According to Gay, when workers arrived at the vet clinic the next day, they saw damage to the back window, indicating a possible attempted break-in.
Gay said the alarm probably scared away the potential intruder, because nothing was stolen from the clinic.
But the hinges on the clinic's back gate were damaged, however, and the gate was situated to make it appear intact and secure, he said. A worker let Max out into the clinic's outdoor area, not knowing the gate was damaged, and the dog was able to escape, he said.
"We searched basically a month," said Gay. "I've walked more pastures in Henry County than I have ever walked."
Frank said she was devastated when she received word that Max had gotten out, but she immediately took action to begin a search.
She said she was doubly worried because Max suffers from seizures and needs medication to prevent them.
"To lose him this way, there was no closure," she said.
Frank said she began to send e-mails about Max to her friends and colleagues with Humane Societies and Henry Animal Care and Control.
"It was amazing. Through the e-mail ... I couldn't believe the people that got involved," she said.
Frank said for four nights she searched the parking lots near the vet's office with her male German shepherd, Barron, and her female German shepherd, Sasha.
She said she took her other dogs in hopes that Max would come out of the shadows to play with them.
"I never saw him, no matter what I did," she said.
Frank said she received a number of false alarms about Max being found and began to lose hope of finding him by the third week of the search.
"She wasn't herself," said Helana Barr, a friend of Frank's and a volunteer at the Henry County Humane Society. "She was just going through the motions."
Frank said she got a call from Gay on Feb. 10. He had tried her home phone, but she was out to eat so he left a message and called her cell. He had been told by DeKalb County Animal Services and Enforcement that Max had been found in Ellenwood.
"I just started to cry," Frank said.
She said she went to DeKalb County and saw Max lying in a dog-run kennel, filthy and shaking. She said he had lost 15 pounds during the ordeal, and seemed dazed, as if he didn't recognize her.
Frank said Max may have suffered from multiple seizures that affected his brain.
She said she took him to Henry County Animal Care and Control to get him a bath.
When she took him home, she said, she put a baby gate between her kitchen and dining area to keep him separated from the other dogs because she didn't know how Barron, the alpha dog of the pack, would react to Max's homecoming.
Frank said Max appeared to recognize Barron and Sasha, and began to whine as if he was talking to them.
She said the dogs recognized each other, and began playing together.
"He [Max] came in the kitchen and spun around," Frank said.
She said she plans to host a barbecue this summer for the people involved in the search for her beloved Max.
"I still have the recording on my voice mail," she said about that call from Gay she missed, the one about Max being found. "I play it occasionally."