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Port St. Joe community helps Indiana family locate lost dog

The McNamee family had already returned home to Indiana with heavy hearts when they got the phone call they had been waiting for for four days.

Their beloved family pet, Nina, an almost two year-old old English sheepdog, who had bolted from their minivan after being spooked by New Year’s Eve fireworks in Jones Homestead, had finally been found.

“We got the call at 5:30 (on Jan. 3) on our way to church,” said Patrick McNamee, the father of the family. “We went to church, figured a few things out and got back down here by 9:30 the following morning.”

Margo McNamee, the family’s mother, quickly took to Facebook to inform the Port St. Joe community, where, in the days leading up to her being found, Nina had garnered quite a bit of local internet fame.

“I shared it to several pages, because I’ve never lost a dog before, and I didn’t really know what to do,” said Margo McNamee. “And then people got word, and we started hearing from people along the way.”

Over the days following New Year’s Eve, posts featuring photos of the family and their pet would generate thousands of likes, shares and comments.

The community’s response, Margo McNamee said, surprised the couple and their three children.

“You could definitely tell as the days progressed, people started knowing who we were. Everyone was looking for her,” she said. “And then you start talking to people, and it was like, I don’t even know this person and they’re out looking for my dog, or they’d post on Facebook, like, ‘I went out looking for three hours today.’”

“And I was just like, you don’t even know me. I mean, so many people.”

The McNamees said that during the days they stayed searching in Gulf County, locals offered them help at every corner.

Some pulled over their cars when they were out looking to let them know a missing dog was in the area, not realizing who the family was. Others helped distribute flyers to local businesses or flew drones over the area so they could search further into the woods.

When they had to return to their home in Indiana, the McNamees said the community assured them they would continue searching.

Nina was eventually located by a young local near where she had last been seen. The dog was caked in mud and her footpads had been worn raw, requiring Patrick McNamee to carry her from place to place.

But otherwise the dog was unharmed, which the McNamees said had been an answer to their prayers.

“God knows the bigger picture, and our suffering is used for so many things,” said Patrick McNamee. “And it was shown. Yes, we suffered. But in the end, it was joyous, we reunited, and all the people that came together and that worked together, I mean, it just doesn’t happen by accident. I mean, there’s divine intervention there.”

As the McNamees returned home with Nina, they said they looked forward to spending more time in Gulf County in the future.

“We’ve talked about getting a retirement home in this area,” said Margo McNamee, “Even if we never found Nina, it just reaffirmed that, you know, we’d like to maybe,spend some retirement time here because of just the genuineness of the people.”



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