GPS Tracker Saves the Life of a Vancouver Island Pooch

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

New technology helps us find our pets when they wander into trouble.

Photo Credit: J Lekavicius /

The best piece of advice I received after adopting my Schnoodles was to get collar tags that included my name and phone number on them. It was explained to me by the rescue, that it’s easier for someone to call a phone number than trek your wayward dog to a vet for a micro-chip scan. And believe me, it works. Twice, I’ve been called by concerned dog owners when my pooches have been found wandering solo and stressed (and yes, I was searching) at my massive 21-acre leash-free park. The upside is that it makes for a much quicker reunion than if the finder turned my pet over to the local humane society.

But what if your pet wanders away and gets into a situation where no caring humans are around to corral and then call the owner? Well, that’s what happened to a black Lab named Tanker who lives near Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Together with his sibling Lab, it seems the curious canines went out for their morning constitutional and, instead of exploring their backyard, they wandered off. Only one returned because three-year-old Tanker had found himself in big trouble. You see, he decided to head off to an industrial area where he poked his head, then his entire body, into a large hollow steel beam. A beam that he could get into, but not out of.

Knowing her dog’s propensity to become distracted when out and about, owner Maureen Ward had wisely attached a GPS tracker to his collar.

When Tanker didn’t return, she pulled out her cell phone to nail down the roaming retriever’s whereabouts. The GPS app showed the tracker had stopped moving, so Ward assumed her pooch had lost it during his travels. When she arrived at the industrial site the app directed her to, she could hear Tanker crying but couldn’t find him until she peered into the hollow steel beam.

No coaxing could get the tightly wedged dog out, so a quick call to 911 was placed and the Cranberry Volunteer Fire Department arrived to save the day.

After two hours spent on various rescue maneuvers and with no progress made, the volunteer crew sought the “OK” from Nickel Brothers who owned the custom-made beam, to cut into it. Getting the thumbs up, they began the arduous task, blow-torch in hand and pausing periodically to calm a now-frantic Tanker. The exercise proved successful and a very grateful dog was released.

Per the Nickel Brothers rep, the $60,000 piece of equipment can be repaired, but the dog couldn’t and that’s what made the decision a no-brainer. For Tanker’s owner, the decision to invest in a GPS tracker is what saved her dog’s life. Something to consider for those with dogs/breeds known to wander.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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