Lucy’s inspiring tale: A pet owner’s nightmare has a happy ending

Lucy, owned by Matt Sabath.

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Lucy, owned by Matt Sabath.

A dog was saved thanks to the power of social media – and kindness of neighbors and strangers.

It was a normal Thursday morning, but it quickly turned into a pet owner’s worst nightmare.

Our family dog, Lucy, was enjoying herself in the front yard when I heard a vehicle stop suddenly. When I walked outside, I saw a service vehicle parked in the street, the driver pacing outside.

“What happened?” I yelled.

“I hit a dog,” he said.

My heart sank as he told me that the dog limped away.

I knew it was our Lucy long before the driver confirmed that the dog, he had hit was brindle-colored.

Within minutes, neighbors came out of their homes, asking what happened as they began looking for Lucy. I expected to find Lucy curled up under a bush or standing in one of the neighbor’s backyards. So, we split up and began searching nearby homes.

The next 30 minutes seemed like hours. The longer we looked for Lucy, the more apparent it became that she had fled, just as temperatures began to plummet.

That’s when I turned to social media. And thanks to the generosity of neighbors and strangers, it ended up saving Lucy’s life.

It all began when I posted a message on the Hillbrooke Facebook group and on Nextdoor asking for people to check their yards and spread the word. Within minutes, more neighbors joined the search.

We continued looking for Lucy well into the evening, and that’s when we caught our first break. A neighbor shared the post on Facebook to her network. A friend who had been waiting in the carpool line at Abbotts Bridge Elementary School saw a dog hiding the bushes.

“I’m pretty positive I saw your neighbor’s dog today by the school,” she wrote.

Those words provided a glimmer of hope.

The search for Lucy continued until late into the evening and expanded to the elementary school and the surrounding area. While looking, I ran into neighbor after neighbor who was also out searching.

Unfortunately, Lucy was still lost. But as everyone returned home, they updated their social media posts and urged their friends to share the information about Lucy with their networks.

On Friday morning, I headed out to the school and combed through the woods. My phone was a constant buzz of social media alerts and text message pings. Friends, neighbors – even complete strangers – were reaching out. They updated me on areas they had searched, offered suggestions, and sent positive thoughts.

Then, something amazing happened.

On Friday night, I shared a post on social media asking for people to meet at my house to help me find Lucy. I expected that a few people would show up. Instead, on a frigid Saturday morning, more than 50 stood in the driveway of my Johns Creek home, eager to help.

A few hours into the search, my phone rang, and the person on the other end said, “I found her. She is in the woods.” It turned out Lucy was across from the school. I rushed over to the woods, scooped her up and headed to the vet.

Lucy had lacerations on her body. Her paws were cut. And she had a dislocated hip.

But she was alive.

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Matt Sabath

Credit: Courtesy of Matt Sabath

Matt Sabath

Credit: Courtesy of Matt Sabath

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Matt Sabath

Credit: Courtesy of Matt Sabath

Credit: Courtesy of Matt Sabath

While sending updates on both Nextdoor and Facebook, I reflected on how incredible everyone was to share my plight, volunteer their time, and in some cases money, to help bring Lucy home.

I want to thank Pete Rogers who found Lucy, and the friends and neighbors who helped in the search, as well as the doctors at Webb Bridge Animal Hospital in Alpharetta, who are treating Lucy.

Most of all, I’m grateful that I was able to post the hashtag – #foundLucy.

Matt Sabath works at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he manages digital edition products and focuses on product and brand partnerships.