Opal has been found.

That message meant a wave of relief for Claudia Woodruff, whose nine-month old Australian Shepherd had been taken, along with a pickup truck, from Port Perry on Aug. 11.

“You hear about stories like this and you don’t think this would happen to you,” Woodruff said.

But Opal is home safe after being found in Highlands East, along with the silver pickup truck, by Haliburton Highlands OPP officers on Aug. 16.

“To finally hear the words that we found your dog, she’s okay [that] was like the best news I’ve ever heard,” Woodruff said.


The news came after a long, stressful and intensive search for the family’s puppy, who Woodruff said is “the love of their lives. She’s the love of a lot of people’s lives!”

Her partner, Gavin Bergsma, was visiting a job site in Port Perry while Opal sat in the truck nearby. He had left the truck on with air conditioning going for Opal, due to the heat. He looked away for a brief moment and someone had hopped in the truck and driven off.

That sparked a nearly Ontario-wide search, with people sharing posts about Opal on Facebook and Woodruff’s family and friends searching everywhere from North Bay to Bancroft to Belleville. “We went everywhere,” Woodruff said.

The search effort also went online. Her posts were shared and copied more than 10,000 times on Facebook, in community groups, lake association pages and lost dog networks. She recounts how many people messaged offering to help by sharing posts, putting up signs or driving around to search for her.

“We’re extremely grateful to the public for doing this because that’s the reason she was found,” she said.

Someone reported seeing the truck in Haliburton County, presumably because of the widely shared photographs online.

Over a thousand people on Facebook chimed in to celebrate Opal’s safe return.

“We did have a happy ending and unfortunately not everybody gets a happy ending.”

That’s why Woodruff urges people to share missing dog posts on social media

“If you see a missing dog post on Facebook, just take the second to share it and maybe that can bring somebody’s dog home.”

A 31-year-old from Clarington has been charged with possession of property obtained by crime and was due to appear in court for a bail hearing Aug. 17.

Get The Highlander in your inbox every Thursday