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Local man uses technology and persistence to find lost dogs

Posted at 9:43 PM, Aug 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-14 00:43:42-04

We’ve all seen the posters; someone looking for a lost dog.  But sometimes those posters get the attention of a local retired man.  The more hopeless the situation seems, the more he wants to search.  And with a high tech approach, Shawn Dienhart has had some pretty good success.
Shawn Dienhart says he has a soft spot for lost dogs especially those in tough situations like being lost away from home or in a rural area.  And once he’s on the case he spends hours sometimes hundreds of hours searching.
 "Well, of course, it’s a great feeling to find a dog that somebody’s missing.  It’s just uh…I don’t know; I don’t know how to explain it,"  said Dienhart
He searches with a kind of tenacity that very few others can.
 "New technology today; of course we have Google Earth and Google Maps.  You can look at an area and determine sources of water, where food might be for a missing dog especially in a rural area," said Dienhart,  "We have wireless trail cameras that will send an alert and an actual image."
He says it isn’t about finding every lost dog, but instead helping to find the ones without much of a chance.  Owners and other searchers often give up after a few days or a week thinking that something must have happened to the dog.  Dienhart hasn’t really found that to be the case.
"This dog Paco, for example, he was out for six weeks with a leash still attached to his collar dragging it around in a very remote area.  And the thought of that dog dragging the leash around maybe stuck on a barbed wire fence somewhere. ..that’s the type of thing that motivates me," said Dienhart
Paco is a German Shepherd that jumped out of his owner’s car on highway 46 east of Paso Robles when they stopped for a rest.  A scared dog lost in an unfamiliar rural location doesn’t have very good odds.  So Dienhart was on the case and searched for nearly six weeks.
"Ultimately I ended up locating where the dog most likely would be and I put some food out one night with a trail camera out there.  And low and behold the dog showed up," said Dienhart
Paco was so scared he had to be trapped – with a humane trap hand built by Dienhart.
His latest find, a dog named Roscoe that somehow made it from Paso Robles to the Cholame Valley.
"And so that seemed extraordinary that this little dog would be way out in that area," said Dienhart, "But then I started talking to people and there were confirmed sightings of the dog."
The sightings were plotted on a map and before you know it Roscoe was on his way home too.
Dienhart doesn’t take anything in return for his work.  He says doing that would taint the process.  To him, it’s all about the dog.  He also doesn’t take solicitations.  Instead, he says prevention is the best solution and if your dog does get lost near home, scour the neighborhood with posters.  If there’s a case that catches his interest, he will find it.