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Jon Walker, a U.S. Army soldier, looked forward to seeing his dog again for more than a year since he deployed. Now that he’s finally returned home, this American hero is still hoping to see her again.
Jon’s dog, Zara, is a German Shepherd. During his deployment, she was cared for by a sitter. Around 4:30pm on July 28th, Zara and Ashley, the pet sitter, were playing a game of fetch in Millersville, Maryland. That’s when Zara disappeared.
Jon’s sister Sarah explained on a Facebook page set up to help find Zara:
They were playing fetch and she threw the ball told her to go get it and Zara kept running and went over a hill and Ashley (the sitter) lost sight of her. Ashley said she went after her and called her and she didn’t come back. Every single one of us that know Zara, including Ashley, said that’s NOT like Zara to do so.
The pet sitter and soldier’s family employed tracking dogs, but no scent trails were found. There have been no sightings. The family is beginning to speculate that Zara might have been stolen.
Zara has a pink embroidered collar on her that just says ZARA 443.995.0633 (The pet-sitter’s phone number), but remind people that if she was stolen, her collar would likely have been changed. She is also microchipped, with her microchip registration linked to her soldier dad.
While the exhaustive search continues, a fundraising page has been setup to raise funds associated with the search. That page can be found here.
For more information, updates, photos, and contact information, or to assist in the search for Zara, visit Help Bring Zara Home on Facebook.
There is no way Ashleys story makes sense..I personally had dogs finding dogs come work for me a few years ago here in Md when my ferret escaped…I live in heavily wooded country area and she had traveled for miles in it. Two days after she went missing there was a sighting a mile or so away at a farm. They came out and picked up her sent immediatly. A ferret that was no more than 8 inches long. They tracked her to a shed (she probably was underground at that point). That being said, i personally saw the skill of the dogs and the handlers…if that shepard had been there, they would have found her scent! I would love to see some evidence from ashley that the dog was with her in md for that period of time..some vet receipts, any camera footage from a store or park she took her to…Ide bet everything i have there is none….I dont think that dogs been in md for a long time, Im even hoping shes still here on earth with us……ps I never did get my ferret back, I personally tracked her for 4 months, 7-9 hrs a day…she decided to live on a horse farm 4 miles away and no trap in this world could catch her….the experts say she wasnt supposed to live for more than a week in the wild..her last sighting was this spring, 4 years later.I still look for her when i can..love you stinky tinky
I live in Maryland, near to where the “so-called” disappearance happened. There were MANY people out looking the afternoon it was reported to have occured.
The longer this disappearance goes on the more suspicious I am about the (former girl-friend) dog-sitter. I really doubt that the dog has been back in Maryland since the “dog-sitter” moved to the Carolinas (One story (locally) it was to South Carolina and another story had it as North Carolina.)
Zara is a beautiful dog, and “someone” has her right now, maybe they know or suspect she might be the missing dog that truly belongs to her soldier. There are way too many “missing” pets of service-members that deployed and trusted a “friend” to care for them. Many friends are worthy of that trust, but sadly, some are not.
Thank you for the update. I called the Anne Arundel County Police this afternoon (8/6) to inquire if a report was ever filed and learn if there were any updates. I was transferred to their Animal Control Department, and spoke to a very responsive, wonderful and compassionate woman who said they are all very concerned about this situation as there have no reported sightings of Zara at all.
I am even more worried after reading in your post that pet sitter Ashley has up and moved. Maybe if all of you Maryland folks barraged the local TV stations/networks with requests for more coverage, and also contacted the Police with the intention to convince them that the pet sitter needs to be interrogated and given a lie-detector test, it could help this case.
I can’t even imagine how distressed Jon Walker is right now, and how hard it has been to keep his head in the game over there, which puts him at further risk. I hope that the citizens in Maryland will band together to locate Zara for her well being and as a thank you to Jon Walker for his service.
Please post a reply if there is anything more I can do from afar. This story has grabbed hold of me and it won’t let me go.
JS – I agree with everything you said – wholeheartedly. And I couldn’t have said it better myself. However, I truly hope that Jon Walker & his dog, Zara, are reunited in this world – CW
Just saw your post. Thank you, too, for your compliment. I am glad for the support and knowing there are others out there who also saw through this story, but darn, it sure is one time I hope I am wrong. I am going to call the station in the morning and see if they will send out a news crew to interview Soldier Walker in order to get the latest update, and see how he is coping with the unfortunate news. See my post below in reply to Annette for more information. Keep praying for Zara and Jon!
I will post the outcome of my call to the news station.
I do hope the dog gets back, this is so horrible, dear Zara and Jon stay strong.
From a dog lover in the UK xxxxxxxxx
Does any part of this story ring true to any one on any level?
Seriously, I am not trying to be negative, but a lost/stolen dog, owned by a soldier, pulls at the heart of everyone, not just animal lovers. The pet sitter’s story is very suspicious to me, and frankly, I don’t believe her. The thought that someone would lie about this is very upsetting. The thought that someone would do this to a legitimate soldier is beyond upsetting. So, I ask these QUESTIONS, with the hope that some intelligent, resourceful people in that area will at the very least, consider the questions and re-examine the facts, so that this precious canine soul can be found and returned to Soldier Walker.
Questions: 1) (Actually, not a question, but a statement) He leaves the dog to go on deployment, which I will accept at face value, so, I say thank you, Mr. Walker, for your service and sacrifice to our country! And please, accept my sincere wishes for the safe return of your precious Zara. My prayers and thoughts go with you both!
2) He leaves his dog intentionally with a “dog sitter” for an indefinite period of time? Was this a professional, licensed dog sitter, or a friend/acquaintance who agreed to help out with the dog? (Qualified vs. unqualified)
3) Ashley, the “pet sitter” has been taking care of this precious dog for over a year and it just now bolts on her? Now that he is coming home in a matter of days (at the time of the occurrence)?
4) She, a responsible pet sitter, let the dog off its leash, and in an area other than a fenced yard or fenced dog park? What community or jurisdiction in the United States does not have a leash law that any legitimate pet sitter wouldn’t be aware of?
5) She went after Zara and called her? Must not have gone very far or tracked her for very long. Surely, after taking care of the dog for over a year, that dog would have eventually responded to her voice no matter how distracted by a rabbit or squirrel or other dog, or smelled Ashley approaching as she tracked her. (Unless, the dog was trying to escape from her for reasons of neglect or abuse.) The minute that dog ran past the fetch item, Ashely should have started running after her and not stopped until she caught the dog!
6) Good idea about hiring the tracking dogs, but if they didn’t pick up any scent after 4 hours, does that possibly suggest that the dog was never in that area to begin with? And possibly, without any corroborating testimony from actual eye-witnesses to verify this entire fetch run, run away incident, who can be sure the story isn’t totally fabricated by Ashley?
7) Why did the pet sitter not immediately contact the Police, the City and/or County shelter to alert them to the situation and to ask or beg for help on behalf of the soldier serving in Afghanistan?
8) Now that Zara’s picture and the story is out on TV, in the papers etc., one would think the chances of a “diverted” dog being returned would be high, especially since they set up an anonymous return arrangement.
9) Is the pet sitter a girlfriend, who may have had a disagreement or misunderstanding or breakup with Soldier Walker, and chosen to hurt him by doing something to his dog? Has she been questioned at length by the Police to determine if she is potentially guilty of any wrongdoing in this case?
10) Has anyone considered that since German Shepherds are typically a very intelligent dogs, and if you accept the story that the dog just ran off, then it would be very likely that the dog would go home after the fun run was over, and easily find its way home? Maybe the dog went to Soldier Walker’s last residence and is patiently waiting for him. Did any one check that address? And then again, since the dog has the capability of finding its way back to Ashley’s address, where it was living for over a year, maybe the dog didn’t want to go back to her. Why not?
I believe there are a number of unanswered questions and lack of facts that require further investigation.
Last, but not least, this “go fund me” thing adds to my suspicions about this whole story. There are tons of animal rescue groups around that would help to locate a missing or stolen dog and help raise money if it was necessary for a monetary reward. But what decent person would accept a reward for a soldier’s lost dog? Stolen? Yes, especially if it was an inside job. Also, most law enforcement jurisdictions have some sort of “Crime Stoppers” program that have funds available for rewards. I find it odd that so much effort has been put forth outside the parameters of law enforcement. One of the best suggestions I saw on the FB page was to contact local area K-9 Units and ask for tracking assistance from off-duty handlers and canine officers. And if there is a military base in the area, I bet some of those guys and gals would volunteer some of their off-duty/leave time for a purposeful SAR! (search and rescue).
I hope that they have contacted every vet, rescue group, shelter – public or private, newspaper, radio and TV station in the state and entire region, with a full description, photo, id tag specifics, and contact information. That dog didn’t just disappear – unless it was purposely disappeared. Someone has seen it. Someone has noticed an unfamiliar dog in the area, someone may have even helped it by giving it food or water as it journeyed along. If it had been hurt, or is sick or injured, someone would have come across it and/or helped it.
One last suggestion: call every church in the area and ask for prayer for Zara and her owner, Jon Walker. There is power in prayer, and the more the better. GOD bless Zara, wherever she is, may she be found very soon and in good health, and may GOD comfort Soldier Walker in the interim!
Your comments are very thought provoking and you have argued a great case which I fully agree with. You so eloquently wrote down some of the suspicions and doubts that I was thinking:) Amen for seeing beyond the pity segment.
Thank you for your reply, support, and compliments. It is breaking my heart to think that it may be possible that someone would stoop so low as to pull this stunt. I truly hope I am wrong about all of this, but too much about this story does not add up.
Further, I went online yesterday after posting my comments above, and started looking for TV stations in that area, for the purpose of calling to see if anyone was broadcasting the story and if there was any update on Zara’s search. (My way of trying to help out with the effort of finding Zara since I am 700 miles south of Millersville, MD, as the crow flies). I spoke with a very nice gentleman in the News Department at WBAL (www.wbaltv.com) and asked if there was any new information. He told me he did not know about this incident, as the station had not been contacted about the story. He seemed interested in the story so I gave him all of the particulars that I had found, including the original source of the story, town/location, soldier’s name, dog’s name and breed, sister’s name and number, pet sitter’s name and number, and the Facebook link to more information and pictures. I also told him I was truly concerned about the legitimacy of the facts in the story and said I really hoped they would investigate it to make sure someone was not trying to scam the soldier or endanger the dog.
I then called one of the numbers listed on FB, but got the person’s voicemail, and left a detailed message. I did not received a return call, but really didn’t expect to.
Before checking these posts, I checked the TV station’s website (referenced above) and saw they had in fact, published the story at 1:05 PM today, 8/5/14. I watched their 10:00 PM broadcast tonight, but didn’t catch any mention of the story.
I hope you are praying for Zara and that Soldier Walker arrives from Afghanistan on Friday with good news, or better yet, Zara waiting at the gate for him. I sure wish I could be there to see that happen!
I 100% agree with all you are saying here. Have you thought about copying and pasting all of these concerns directly on the page. Maybe it will bring the issues to light if they had not been thought of. At the very least maybe some answers will come your way.
I didn’t post on FB because I don’t have an account and don’t want one. Also, I was concerned that my critical evaluation of the story may deter others from helping by looking for Zara. Today, early Sunday 8/10, and still, I honestly don’t know what to think about some of the details. I do think the dog is missing, but I wonder why there didn’t seem to be a more concentrated, organized, aggressive media campaign launched immediately. When I realized that hadn’t been done by Day 3, I called the local NBC TV station and got a story published, and called an ABC station the next day and got one going, and I live 700 miles away. I think that if there is one lesson to be learned here (apart from keeping a dog on a leash if not in a fenced dog park) is that we pet owners aka fur baby lovers, need to develop a nationwide alert system to activate in situations like this, just as it is done for missing children with Amber Alerts.
One question that bugs me is: did Ashley return to S.C.? I get that she was up in MD visiting her parents (or something like that) but it seems as though I read somewhere that she had returned home. Job or no job or anything else – she “lost” the dog on her watch and I think she owes it to Soldier Walker to remain vigilante and remain in MD to look for the dog until Zara is found. My worry is that if Zara was living in SC for the past year, then maybe she is trying to get back there, or trying to get to Kent Island, where it was reported that Soldier Walker lived prior to deployment. I do know for a fact that Zara was not reported missing to the Animal Control Office for 3 hours after the incident. Seriously? I just watched the news story that appeared on WJLA on Friday evening, I think. At least Soldier Walker is back on U.S. soil now, so we know he is safe, but he is in Texas and currently not available to look for her. We need to pray for him and his peace of mind and well-being.
They have now stated a police report has been filed and consider her stolen. I do know that news stations were contacted and they kept brushing them off. Multiple people stated that they were posting on FB pages for news stations, messaging them and emailing too. Comments saying who was notifed were all over the FB page.
The story with the sitter is highly suspicious. I am hoping that now, more can be done with the police involvement.Your comment about Animal Control is not exactly accurate. As soon as the family knew….everyone knew. And I was told that they did not know right away. That is even alluded to in a comment on Zaras page.