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News / Northwest

Spokane stray dog rescued after months of sightings: ‘Onyx has united everyone on the South Hill’

By Roberta Simonson, The Spokesman-Review
Published: February 21, 2024, 10:31am

Spokane — After months of dodging the South Hill residents who tried to bring her in from the cold, a nomadic stray dog has been rescued.

Onyx has been frequenting the South Hill and beyond for months, leaving some residents with black lab cameos on their Ring camera footage.

Natasha Cleveland, who first saw the dog in December, joined with other residents, including her neighbor Annemarie Dorn, to save Onyx, sharing photos and last known locations on apps like Facebook and NextDoor.

“We kind of put a team together that wanted to try and help her and catch her,” Cleveland said.

But it wasn’t easy.

When initial attempts at using animals traps yielded only a cat and a raccoon, the team decided they needed to be strategic about where and when they set traps.

They set up a feeding station for Onyx on a porch she seemed comfortable visiting.

“She showed up a few nights and she would sleep on there,” Cleveland said.

Then it was a matter of getting the dog to trust the spot. Onyx could count on food on that porch each night, and sometimes a chew toy.

“It was all ways of trying to get her to spend more time on the porch,” Cleveland said.

The treats were placed inside a crate to get Onyx used to the impending trap.

“The crate was to teach her that it was safe and all of that before actually putting the trap there,” she said.

Security cameras were placed inside and around the crate. The night Onyx was captured, around 4 a.m. Tuesday, Cleveland was spending her second night in a row monitoring the cameras.

“I could have just checked the camera footage, but we were getting so close,” she said. “I’m very sleep-deprived.”

Still, Cleveland is relieved Onyx is safe.

“I immediately this morning updated everything on NextDoor and texted all the people that I’ve connected with on the South Hill that have helped. … Everybody was just so relieved and happy to have such a happy ending,” she said. “Onyx has united everyone on the South Hill, and she’s a very sweet dog.”

Michaela Thompson, who is fostering Onyx, said the dog is in a “decompression” period, where she’s adjusting to human interaction again.

“She’s still very afraid,” Thompson said.

“We’ve watched this change in her; the longer she was on the run, the more fearful she was of everything,” Cleveland said. “That’s what happens when they’re in that fight-or-flight state.”

As soon as she’s ready, Onyx will be visiting a veterinarian.

Overall, Cleveland said Onyx is doing well.

“For a dog that’s been on the run for as long as she’s been, she looks really good,” she said.

Onyx’s happy ending wouldn’t have been possible without the help of South Hill residents, many of whom offered to set up their own feeding stations or donated to Onyx’s vet costs, Cleveland said.

There were “so many people coming together to help in any way that they can,” Cleveland said. “By no means was this just me, this was everyone.”

Cleveland said local animal rescue organizations were also instrumental.

“I encourage people to donate to local rescues, because they can come to the aid when a dog like Onyx is out on the run,” she said.

Roberta Simonson’s reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.

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