LAS CRUCES – After 101 days spent roaming the desert west of Las Cruces, Jingo, the Jindo-terrier mix, is finally home with her family in Los Angeles.
Jingo was just under 1 year old when she escaped from a pet transport van traveling through southern New Mexico in October 2021.
Jingo's owner, Monika Cirsch, told the Sun-News that Jingo was a rescue from Korea who had spent a few weeks with Cirsch and her children in Los Angeles before boarding a Blue Collar Pet Transport van on her way to live with Cirsch’s boyfriend in Texas.
While making a pitstop at Love’s Travel Stop along Interstate 10 near the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, Jingo ran away from the Blue Collar handler. Needing to continue on his route, the handler left.
Local animal welfare organizations and community members pitched in to help find Jingo after Monika posted about the situation on a Facebook community page. But Jingo was skittish and trapping her proved difficult.
Cirsch ended up reaching out to Waggin’ Tales Search & Rescue based in Portland, Oregon for help. The organization’s executive director, Kimber Hysell, said she mostly works on cases in the Portland area, though has given advice on rescue cases elsewhere. This was the first case where she physically ventured outside Oregon. Waggin' Tales also worked with Mike Noon of Catching Paws out of California.
Hysell explained that through local volunteers, live-feed cameras were placed in the area where Jingo was spotted to track her patterns. They then placed modified traps in hopes of capturing her. But Jingo was hesitant to go near possible traps.
It took some trial and error and several trips to Las Cruces for both Cirsch and Hysell, but Jingo was finally caught Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, in a panel trap set by Hysell. For 101 days, Jingo remained close to the Love’s Travel Stop.
“She caught m,e too,” Hysell said. “She (bit) me three times …. It's just a defense mechanism, so it was to be expected, but bless her heart.”
Once safely in the car, Jingo was taken to the El Paso Animal Emergency Center for examination. Hysell said veterinarians found that Jingo had a slight respiratory infection, torn paw pads and bone debris in her stomach and digestive tract — all of which was expected considering the landscape, weather, the amount of time she spent in the desert and the fact that people were leaving food out for her to eat.
Cirsch drove to El Paso the next day with her father and one of her daughters and said Jingo was happy to see her. Jingo is now safe and sound at home in Los Angeles where she will remain, Cirsch said.
“She was so happy to see me and I feel like I've bonded with her more even though we weren't technically together, but emotionally. There was no way that I could be without her,” she said.
Cirsch said that since returning home, Jingo has been acting happy and grateful and has settled in nicely — almost better than when the dog and family first met. And, Cirsch said, Jingo remembered Cirsch’s daughters right away. She is the fourth dog in the home, joining Chihuahuas Spike, Ivy and Louie.
Hysell said Jingo's rescue was Waggin’ Tails' 346th in three years. The organization's longest rescue took 411 days, she said
Jingo's rescue was difficult, she said, but seeing her back with the Cirsches is "just the best feeling."
"That's worth every penny my group spent, that's worth all the pain, that's worth all the (sleeplessness)," Hysell said. "All of that goes away when you see that little pup back home with her people."
She added that she tells clients not to give up because dogs are resourceful and resilient.
Cirsch said members of the community never stopped sending her messages when they spotted Jingo in the desert and she and Hysell both thanked the Las Cruces community for their help in the search.
This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Jingo returns home after 101 days in the Las Cruces desert