I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: Local boarder loses dog -- again -- but she's found 12 days later thanks to trail cameras

Thursday, May 30, 2019
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

This emotional moment after Emma was found was captured by one of the trail cameras. (Source: The Moore Family)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- We begin with the happy ending of the tale Katelynn and Tyler Moore never expected to tell.

Emma, their 5-year-old rescue dog, is home after being lost almost two weeks. The Moore family had dropped her off at Town and Country in Appling for the weekend when she somehow escaped. They didn't find her until 12 days later.

[RELATED: How do you find a lost dog?]

Pets are members of the family for many people.

"Oh yes," Katelynn Moore agreed.

"And she was a rescue dog for us," Tyler Moore said. "So now, she's been twice rescued."

This second rescue happened after Katelynn and Tyler took their two-legged son, Mason, to Hilton Head.

The family had taken Emma to Town and Country several times before, they said.

They thought they had nothing to worry about until Katelynn's phone rang.

"We got a phone call at 1:58," Katelynn said. "She said that Emma was missing."

They knew there were woods all around the boarding place, so as they raced home, they called friends and family to jump start the search so Emma couldn't get too far.

Then, they learned she had been missing longer than they thought -- about 6 or 7 hours longer, Tyler said.

Hours turned into days, so the Moore family set up extra eyes: trail cameras. Then, something amazing happened. The camera catches Emma multiple times, both during the day and at night.

"She had actually been seen at other peoples' houses," Tyler said.

"Our dog had," Katelynn said.

"Our dog had. Yeah. On Prior visits," Tyler said. "And we were like, 'What do you mean, seen?' And she was like, 'She's come, and she's been on my dad's porch before.' And we were just shocked."

I asked Town and Country's owner, Mary Garnto, about all of this. Had Emma gotten out before?

"And I told the family about that, too. And he said I did not. She only went to the tree. It was, you know, fireworks or something. No, they were shooting back there," Garnto said.

According to an incident report with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, she believed the escape "happened during an overnight storm."

Garnto also told me Emma chewed her way out; she called her an "escape artist." She then asked why I was there talking to her. I told her about the story from 2014 where a customer told News 12 Garnto lost her dog, Ellie. (Garnto's neighbors who helped the Moore family search told them Ellie was located after our report.)

We also found another incident report from 2014 where deputies say two cats in Garnto's care went missing. Back then, we reported her business license had expired.

It was expired this time, too. Emma went missing May 5. Columbia County issued her a business license May 6.

The Moore family finally found Emma May 17. They say they are forever grateful to Garnto's neighbors and to those who shared social media posts to help them find Emma.

"People we don't know were praying for us all around the community, and on the way that morning, in the car, we're praying out loud, said Katelynn. "Then, we got there. And she was there."

Trail cameras also caught the emotional reunion. There's a picture of a blurry Katelynn crying happy tears as she ran to the trap that finally caught Emma. The camera also captured images of Katelynn and Tyler walking with Emma back to their car after they were reunited.

"Biblically, I'm called to forgive her, and I do," Tyler said. "I don't hold any resentment, but, at the same time, from a business standpoint, I just feel like it's our duty to let people make as informed of a decision as possible."

We contacted the Georgia Department of Agriculture. It regulates businesses like these. We're told Town and Country's license expired in June 2017. That means they haven't had one for two years until, according to the Agriculture Department, they applied for renewal this month.

Emma, meanwhile, is doing well. She was cleared from Lyme disease and lepto, but the Moore family says they had to pull over 150 ticks from her.

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