GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - What started as a happy story Friday quickly turned sour. Macey, the Great Dane that was on the run for more than 40 days, has died. The roller coaster day began with hugs of joy. Just hours later, it ended with hugs of sadness.
Macey was captured on East Railroad St. behind Centennial Plaza around 1:30 p.m. Friday when she was tranquilized by Gulfport animal control.
She was taken to the Humane Society of South Mississippi for a checkup, but she didn't make it. A necropsy will be done to determine the cause of death.
Witnesses said they believe Macey was struck at least twice with tranquilizer darts.
"Dogs that size, usually this is the easiest method of apprehending, capturing them, and bringing them to safety," said Sgt. Josh Bromen, with the Gulfport Police Department. "It's unfortunate, but again, being outside that length of time without the adequate food, shelter, things of that nature, obviously put a strain on this animal's health."
Macey also had heart worms and had been hit by a vehicle, her owner, Violet Knight, said.
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.
One thing Macey did while she was on the run was bring a group of total strangers together. Almost every evening, anywhere from two to 10 people gathered to search for the beloved dog. The volunteers who gave so much of their time to help find the dog are devastated.
"All I can say is my heart is broken," said volunteer Judy Smith. "We were so, so happy that she was going to be safe, and to go from that pinnacle to the depths of this is just really, really difficult."
Volunteers praise animal control officers for their effort.
"She couldn't just stay out there," Smith said. "You know, she would have eventually died, gotten sick, gotten hit by a car, or something. I mean, there's all kinds of what ifs, what ifs. We had to do what we had to do to try to save her."