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Drone tracks missing dog to Port Coquitlam rail yard in astonishing rescue

What started out as a weekend jaunt for a pair of Husky dogs turned into a three-day ordeal for the owner and a community of Tri-Cities animal lovers.

It started as a Sunday morning jaunt for a pair of Husky dogs on Coquitlam's Burke Mountain, but turned into a three-day ordeal.

"Typical Huskies," was owner Trevor Hinkley's comment about how his dog, Stella, escaped a friend's yard, along with her sibling, Harley, while he was on vacation in Maui.

No one knows how the dogs got out of the yard — but Harley was quickly found.

Unfortunately, Stella slipped out of her collar with two tracking air tags and disappeared. 

"So the hunt was on putting up posts on Facebook," Hinkley recalled to the Tri-City News.

Social media played a big part in the Stella's rescue that spanned two communities over three days and through several kilometres of ravine, forests, busy streets, a bustling downtown and a dangerous highway and rail yard.

Hinkley had to watch the whole episode unfold while he was on what was supposed to be an enjoyable family vacation with his brother, parents and 94-year-old grandma.

Help from strangers

"I was not enjoying my vacation, that's for sure," Hinkley said.

While you often see posts about missing pets on social media, they don't always attract the kind of following — and support — that was generated by a post about Stella, who stayed missing through the May long weekend.

"It's great to see that there are still a lot of great amazing people who will help complete strangers in need," Hinkley said.

The call for help went out on Sunday (May 21) for Burke Mountain residents to keep an eye out for Stella, a 13-year-old white female Husky.

It wasn't long before people in the neighbourhood above David Avenue responded with sightings.

From the Coquitlam Facebook group, the post went out on the Port Coquitlam Facebook group, where more sightings were reported.

Among those who saw the appeal were Kimberley and Cameron Osborne, who own Advanced Drone Solutions BC., based in Coquitlam, which provides commercial and industrial drone services.

They offered to use their drone to track the dog’s movements after she was spotted in various locations.

"We're animal lovers ourselves and we wanted to offer all the support we could," said Kimberley.

'Jumped in our cars'

She said the couple used their thermal drone Tuesday night (May 23) to see if they could spot Stella who had been sighted above Carriage Court and Oxford Street.

But after two hours of searching, they realized that Stella had gone into the ravine and was hidden by forest and underbrush, and they had to call it quits for the night.

The next morning, however, a promising tip was posted to the Port Coquitlam Connection Facebook Group.

Just before 8 a.m. today (May 24) Danielle Josephine posted a video of a white dog sauntering through downtown Port Coquitlam on Elgin Avenue near PoCo Building Supplies.

When Kimberley and Cameron heard about the PoCo sighting they burst into action.

"We jumped in our cars with our kids, [after] we saw (posts of) her running around the downtown PoCo area. We put the drone in the air right away and we tracked her to the CP Rail yard."

Volunteers were on standby and Trevor Hinkley's brother, Graeme, showed up with Harley, the other Husky escapee.

Fortunately, the CP Rail police were cooperative and let the dog rescuers onto the site.

'What a relief'

That's when the reunion happened. 

'She kind of recognized Harley and I gave her the biggest mama bear hug," said Kimberley, who quickly snapped on the collar and leash.

She speculates that Stella was in the 'fight or flight' mode when she ran down Burke Mountain, through downtown Port Coquitlam, even crossing busy Lougheed Highway to get somewhere safe.

However, she was in surprisingly good condition when she was found, although she was a bit dirty and anxious.

Hinkley, a Port Moody resident who works for the City of Coquitlam, is still in Maui on vacation and mulling whether he should return early.

He is thankful to all those who helped out, including members of the community, Kimberley and Cameron, local bylaw officers and CP Rail Police.

"Truly one of the most stressful and greatest moments in my life!!." he wrote in an Instagram post.

"Tears of joy and sadness and many prayers answered!! Being glued to my phone trying to be on vacation following all the chats/feeds/posts/comments/updates....what a relief!" 

@tricitynews Stella! 🐕 #tricitynews #coquitlam #portcoquitlam #dog #dogsoftiktok #dogfound #drone ♬ original sound - TriCityNews