The Dog Liberator™

The Dog Liberator rescues abandoned dogs throughout the Southeast. Based in Central Florida, this non-profit organization fosters all of their dogs in a home environment. Founded in 2009, all dogs are fully vetted, spayed or neutered prior to adoption. The Dog Liberator focuses in rescuing the herding breed, which consists of Border Collies, Shepherds, Sheepdogs, Aussies, Collies, and Deaf/Blind Dogs.

Whoah Nellie!

If you thought that Shy Shannon, Trixie Belle, Chelsea and Nutella gave me a challenge, wait until you meet Nellie.

Before I dive into Nellie’s story, remember Cassie, Carter’s Mom? This little girl looks so much like Cassie it’s scary!

Nellie came from Mobile Alabama, our transport coordinator Christina and Suzanne were kind enough to make arrangements for her to hitch a ride to our rescue. And then? She escaped! For 48 hours groups of volunteers were searching for her. Christina told a fellow volunteer, Darla, “I don’t know how to coordinate a rodeo!” And a rodeo it was.

I will let Darla tell us exactly what happened, but finally, Nellie was found and transport was arranged once again. Flight risk is an understatement.
Our Rebecca made arrangements for Pilot, Jeffrey Archer to fly Nellie to me from Tally to the DeLand airport, but Darla, knowing Nellie personally thought about it, she said NO! So, Darla personally drove Nellie to my door. She’s a strong little border collie! I can see how she could easily elude even the fastest human! Here’s Darla’s take on Nellie’s Great Adventure!

Leg by leg transport from Mobile, AL, to Deltona, FL
Third Leg – Lloyd, FL, Black/white BC transferred from one vehicle to the next
Dog placed in the back of the next vehicle and leash removed (MISTAKE #1)
Dog not tied or secured in vehicle (MISTAKE #2)
New driver opened back door (MISTAKE #3)
Opportunity seen! Whoa Nellie makes a run for it!

Although I’m rarely at home on a Saturday afternoon and rarely on-line at that time, I checked my emails and saw a post of a dog who had gotten loose on a transport near where I live in Tallahassee, FL. As a member of the Big Bend DART (Disaster Animal Response Team) and having worked with ARNO (Animal Rescue New Orleans) since Hurricane Katrina, I knew I could help. I made a few calls to get additional help and drove to the exit. One car was driving around looking for her. (The other car had to continue with the transport.) Talking with people in the area, we found out the last sighting was at the Cavallo Ranch, a horse ranch about 1 mile up a small, muddy, dirt road on the other side of woods. We searched the area, looking for paw prints and broken weeds, searching empty horse stalls, talking with people who passed by and people at the ranch. Nothing!

Of course, it started raining, we continued until about 10:00 pm then decided to regroup by an abandoned gas station at the entrance of the dirt road. Nellie was seen when the first car passed a hidden grassy area. She took off at break-neck speed. We again followed her path. Her foster mother, Crystal, who had jumped in her car from 4 hours away when she had heard the news of the escape, arrived with her daughter who had a special bond with Nellie. They also joined. After some more time had passed with no response, we decided to settle in for a quiet watch-n-wait, hoping the child would bring Nellie from the woods. After 2 more hours, we decided to call it a night and regroup in the morning.

Sunday morning, we met up again at 7:00 am. I had a few connections through the DART team and arranged for a K9 Search and Rescue team to come and join the search. Three more wonderul helpers, Pat Simmons, Ann and the dog named Pete, joined the search. We followed several scent trails through mud, swamp land and woods, around abandoned business and houses – no definitive results except that we knew where she wasn’t. After reaching the point of the Pete’s time to rest and the heat of the day increasing, we continued with people only. Again, no sightings by us.

We returned to the sight in the evening. (Loose, scared dogs will usually hunker down somewhere during the heat of the day – and come out at dawn and dusk looking for food.) People had seen her again. This time, she was running by the freeway and, again, was returning to the gas station where the transfer originated. Another search of the woods, area and horse ranch. Nothing. Several feeding stations were set up to keep her in the area and away from the freeway. Arrangements were being made to set a trap the following evening. Contact numbers were given to nearby businesses, people and the ranch. Another evening wrapped up with no Nellie.

Then, later that evening, about 11:00, we got a call from the ranch. After all our work, she wandered into the lounge of the ranch offices through a doggie door! How simple! What a smart girl! Finding the only air conditioned place around that she had access to! Had she been laying in wait, watching all us crazy humans going through all the means we could think of to try to get her? I imagine her just watching us the whole time (instead of the other option – her terrified and hiding in the safest place she could find).

Nellie then went to a safe place, provided by another volunteer who works with a local no-kill rescue group, ECAH Animals/Capitol ARK. She proved to be a wonderful house guest – no potty mistakes in the house, no chasing the cats running around, no problems with the other dogs in the house.

The next issue became how to get her to her destination. When arrangements were made to fly her there, I had visions of her breaking out and running on the runways. Couldn’t do it. I had to take her there myself. I did. (Definitely no stops along the way!) She made it safely to the house of Giselle. After talking with Gisele, I felt really comfortable knowing she will find her forever home! Thanks to all who helped!



Nellie is resting now, and I will start working with her in the next few days, but a micro chip is really the first thing I plan on doing! I will be determining if she is a herding dog, a disc dog, an agility pro, or if she needs to move into Fort Knox! More about this gorgeous flight risk soon!

06/13/10 Update: Nellie has been very withdrawn, and to be honest, exhausted. I wonder if she has recently had a litter, and I truly wonder how long she has been on her own. She is very underweight, but I’m used to that, it’s the amount of rest that she’s enjoying really makes me wonder. I guess always being on the run and scared would make any good dog exhausted. But last night, it was time to work on socialization! With Erika’s help, I brought her to my side yard, and kept her on leash, and plenty of turkey hot dogs! The goal was to see if she would try to escape. Amazingly, Nellie sits on command and also does the “sit pretty” as well.

Then, we introduced Ozzie who, as always, was very polite to her. A few moments later, we brought out Lady Di. Much to my suprise, it was Lady Di that wanted to play with Nelli, but the answer was no. I was confident that she would not try to escape, and we all gathered in the larger yard, again, rewarding with more hot dogs. As Ozzie and Lady ran out the yard playing chase me now, Nellie watched with curiousity, but still no play. I was very discouraged.

Before we were going to call it a night, I brought out Serendipity, and within seconds, this little fluffy Aussie got Nellie to play! What? Did I get on film? Why… of course! Video coming soon!

on Facebook: Wendy Mcarthur – Nellie, looks like a completly different dog from when she was at the County Shelter. Her wonderful spirit is coming to life. I can not thank everybody involved in her rescue enough. but, i do believe these pictures show why we get involved , saving one dog at a time. It is so worth it when you see this kind of results.

Holly and Gisele,

First let me say…I LOVE HER! She is precious and oh so smart. I just hate to think what someone did to her, she is so young, but you can see she is oh so hesitant to truly trust. Spent some good, but hot, time with her and Cocoa in one of my fenced in paddocks today (several times). She knows now that is her ‘free time’ to be off the leash and have fun. Got a good back roll in the grass and then she was wide open to belly rubs and all the sorts. Stole Cocoa’s bone twice, which then Cocoa decided she must bury at once before the new pup steals again!

She is REALLY timid around John, but gaining trust by the second. After dinner tonight he got down on the ground with her on the patio (picture attached) and there was some real connection. She now approaches him with caution but hope. I have NO DOUBT that she will be off the leash and happy with life after a couple weeks here, if not sooner. Horse should be here Monday, so I think she will love that adventure.

It was funny this morning, I took her out around 5:30 am for a little walk and the roosters were a crowing…she loved it! She was meant for ‘farm living’ for sure! ‘Farm Living is the life for her’ (Green Acres). You guys did a great thing by rescuing her, and Gisele’s skills with acclimation were great. She is my shadow, and I know will be John’s mush puppy in no time.

Let me know if I am bothering you, but I know that I would want updates if I had spent time with her.


Sept 10 Update from Jocelyn

Love the tongue sticking out! She has brought new energy to Cocoa who has finally settled with the fact that ‘the pup’ is here to stay so she may as well take her under her wing.

Cocoa is trying to learn how to play BC style rather than lab style…cute to watch her try to figure out what makes Maggie happy!


Within 5 minutes, she has pulled all these toys out onto her bed and would pick one up, run around the house then jump back on the bed and grab the next one! I have a huge basket of dog toys right next to her bed…guess she finally figured out that it was there!

3 thoughts on “Whoah Nellie!

  1. Once she was properly introduced to me, she became a real love sponge. She's going to take some work but she's a lovely BC that will truly blossom with the right family!

  2. WHOA Nellie…is now content and happy Maggie! Not to say we have not had our 'runaway bride' issues, but after a few captures, with the help of her sister Cocoa, she has now decided that this is 'not such a bad place'! She stays by my side, has full run of the entire yard (even those spots not fenced)! Loves the cats, and is learning about the horses. Going to sign her up for agility training next week, think she will LOVE this, but we will see! She has decided that this is her FOREVER home! My husband and I wonder what her longest time at any 'home' was before us???? Thanks again Holly and Gisle…love you…you are the best!

  3. So…cute little tidbit. Maggie has decided that she REALLY loves going bye-bye. So my husband heads out this morning and decides he is going to try to take her along! She was hesitant at first, but once I walked her out the front door..she jumped right up in the back seat of the dually! (Made me look like a fool, because I said, 'she is too small, she can't jump up there on her own'! LOL

    My husband comes home and states, 'we are never having anything but a BC mix…I LOVE her!' Yeah, but I felt bad for Cocoa…so I had to add…or a Lab mix! We have loved ALL of our dogs…don't get me wrong…but I am kind of a BC bigot!

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