Jackie Vestal, 34, a business systems analyst at a Los Angeles real estate agency doted on her 7-year-old miniature pincher Maddox, rarely leaving home without him. So when Maddox went missing on Christmas Eve Vestal made an extraordinary vow to never give up looking for him—and 84 days later, she's still on the hunt.
During the holidays, Vestal and her husband went to visit her in-laws in Oklahoma City and naturally Maddox came along for the ride. From Oklahoma, the family had planned a quick getaway to a resort in Dallas. The only problem? The resort didn't allow dogs so Vestal was faced with the uncomfortable dilemma of leaving Maddox behind with a friend of the family, a fellow dog owner for several nights. "I really didn't want to leave him even for a night and had this weird, awful feeling in the pit of my stomach," says Vestal. "But I didn't want to spoil everyone's good time and the fact that this woman owned a dog was comforting. So we left him with her."
A few days later, Vestal hired pet detective Karin TarQwyn who flew to Oklahoma City from Nebraska with her crew of canines to track Maddox's scent. "Karin asked me to put a harness with Maddox's hair on it in a plastic bag to keep his scent fresh and we hit all the spots that reported sightings," says Vestal. "We set up feeding stations there and if the food was gone in the morning, we installed deer cameras. But we never caught anything on camera."
Next, Vestal alerted the media, renting billboard space, appearing on three different local television stations and even a local dog talk show called "Dog Talk with Pat Becker." People on Vestal's Facebook page have also searched for Maddox, although large search parties don't seem to help. "He might be scared by a group calling his name so I tell people to not catch him if they spot him but rather to call me and I'll come right over," she says.
It's been almost 100 days since Maddox has been missing and Vestal has taken a leave of absence from her job in Los Angeles to focus on finding him in Oklahoma City.
Vestal had a microchip implanted in him so if anyone sees him, a vet can simply scan him which will send an alert to Vestal. For now, she's relying on determination and the help of strangers to bring Maddox home.