Mexican dog safe in Duncan after airport adventure

Former Mexican street dog Zander is in Duncan today adjusting to Island life after his great escape from Victoria International Airport over the weekend — and his even more exciting capture.

A night vision camera, rotisserie chickens and a team of dog-loving volunteers were all key to capturing Zander after he wiggled free of his collar and bolted Saturday.

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“It was an eye-opening and heart-warming experience at the same time,” said Jan Staebell, of MexPup.

Zander had flown to Victoria from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with two other dogs — Highway and Manson — who were already adopted and taken away by their families Saturday.

But seven-month-old Zander, who was headed for a foster home, became skittish after the flight and escaped at the airport.

A volunteer was helping his new foster mom put a harness on him when he escaped.

Volunteers used a thermal-imaging camera among various other tools and ploys to find and capture the cold and hungry pup overnight.

Zander was never far from sight but eluded capture. “He’s a slippery little devil,” laughed Staebell.

By Sunday morning, the non-profit group FLED (Find Lost & Escaped Dogs) arrived on the scene to assist.

Three rotisserie chickens were used as bait. Volunteers knew that while in Mexico, Zander had a liking for tasty poultry.

Volunteers with food in one hand and harnesses in the other tried in vain to capture the dog. However, as Zander became accustomed to eating out of volunteers hands and running away, a serving of chicken was then left on a tinfoil plate in the back of a car.

By about 6 p.m. Sunday that car door was closed behind him and the chase was over, Staebell said.

The small dog roughed up his stomach and injured his dew claws while running about in the vicinity of the airport. He is otherwise healthy.

“What an adventure it was,” Staebell said. “It was a sad experience, but it just goes to show you what an amazing group of dog-loving people we have here on the Island — people who will drop everything to look for a lost dog. “It was an incredible experience, though I hope we don’t have to go through it again.”

MexPup is a non-profit operation that rescues homeless dogs from Mexico and places them with families in Canada or the United States.

Zander is now in foster care with the B.C. adoption co-ordinator of the MexPup program. There has already been interest in adopting him.

“He had a great night’s sleep and he’s wagging his tail today,” Staebell said.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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