GULFPORT - A group of strangers has come together in Gulfport to help a family from Ocean Springs they don't even know. They are searching for Macey, a Great Dane, that has been missing for more than 40 days.
Anywhere from two to 10 people gather to search for the dog almost every day; usually heading out as the sun starts to go down. Judy Smith says she feels blessed to be able to help.
"None of us really knew each other and we didn't know the owner or Macey; but we are all dog lovers and compassionate people," said Smith.
When they head out, they're looking for footprints and any other sign that Macey, may have been in the area. Skipper Talley has been with the search team since two days after the elusive Macey disappeared, on June 26.
"She's like a ghost. It's like we're chasing Bigfoot. She's here, then she's not here."
Numerous sightings of the Great Dane continue to stir interest and hope. Judy says their goal is simply to safely return the dog back to her family.
Word has gotten around. Macey has been seen numerous times in about a 10-mile radius extending from Gulfport High School near Courthouse Road, to the College Park neighborhood near Anniston Avenue, all the way up to Highway 49 near the airport.
Robin Bush is heading up the effort in Gulfport.
"Macey is fast and she runs away if you call her name," said Bush. "We thought by now she'd be slowing down but she's not."
While the search team has gotten close, no one has been able to get close enough to catch the dog. Bethany Mason had a close encounter, but wasn't able to stop her.
"We thought we had her trapped near the high school, but then she ran me over and ran off," said Mason.
The Great Dane disappeared in late June, when her Ocean Springs owners gave her away after they downsized to give the 90 pound dog more space. Sadly, the dog escaped from the new Gulfport owner the day they brought her home, and has been on the run ever since.
What should you do if you see Macey?
"Call the numbers on the fliers. Don't call her name, don't run after her. Don't try and catch her because she will run. She's scared and she's been out here over a month," said Bush. "If you see her and can keep an eye on her from a distance while we try to get there, that would be great."
The original owners, Brandon and Violet Knight, have been involved in the search, and they helped set up a trap in an area Macey frequents. But because they live and work in Ocean Springs, they're relying largely on the growing group of volunteer animal lovers in Gulfport; to help bring Macey home.
Macey has been spotted at least 25 times since she got loose; most recently Aug. 10 in the Courthouse Road area where she has been spotted three times the same week. Her original owners say they won't let her go again if they get her back.
If you see Macey make a note of where you saw her, what time, and where she was going. then, call 228-219-1757 or 228-297-1081. Or, call Animal Control at 228-868-5900. Residents can also share information by going to the Facebook page, Finding Macey.