Fido found: Pup Ritz returns home

Jul 9, 2020

Even though Independence Day is over, one Dartmouth family still has cause for celebration.

The family’s two-year-old labradoodle Ritz has been found after he was scared off by loud fireworks over the holiday weekend.

“People are filled with kindness,” read a post from Stephanie Church on social media updating the community on Ritz’s return. “Wonderful friends and strangers showed up at our house ready to do whatever we needed to find our dog...Thank you Dartmouth. You convinced me today that our world is a wonderful place.”

“I can’t believe we found him! I am beyond elated not only to have my beloved dog but to know that people are more than good around me,” she added.

Ritz had run away after a big firework went off while on a walk. 

Church, who just joined Facebook over quarantine, described how she immediately posted to social media when she found out.

“Within half an hour, people were out on our road driving slow, looking for him. People we didn’t even know,” she said. “We’ve been here 15 years, and my in-laws have been here for almost 40 years. Neighbors we’ve never even met were out until 2 a.m. with flashlights, looking!”

A number of residents have complained about the noise from fireworks set off by individuals this year.

Dartmouth Police Detective Kyle Costa said that from late June until July 5, the department fielded 26 calls with complaints about fireworks.

Church said that the morning after Ritz disappeared, she got up early to continue the search with help from friends and acquaintances like her in-laws’ dental hygienist and two of her sons’ teachers.

And most of the people she met along the way told her they were out looking for him too. “There were 30 people that I didn’t even know on foot throughout the day looking for the dog,” she said with a smile.

Church said that what eventually led to Ritz’s discovery was a tip from someone at Packleaders Pet Trackers, a Rhode Island company that helps people find their missing pets.

“I sent him my address and the direction the dog headed in. He sent me a map with a highlighted area saying that would be the most probable area, and that’s where he was,” Church said. “It’s amazing.”

She and her son Ethan found Ritz stuck in a mass of pricker bushes on a nearby farm. “We were calling him, and we heard him whimper,” she said. “The grass was up to our waist, so we couldn’t even see him at first.”

After getting him home and into a bath, Church said, Ritz is doing “fantastic.”

“He had some stuff stuck in his fur,” she noted. “But he just cuddled us all night and he was happy.”

“I’m so happy I found the dog,” Church added. “And the most amazing thing is just knowing how kind people are.”