Pippa went missing on the 11 March 2022 in Farnworth, Bolton. She had been out there surviving for 4 weeks and one day.
She was spotted in a garden which was directly at the side of a railway the day after she went missing. A remote camera and food was put down (with permission from the owner of the house with this garden). The garden had fence panels missing so she could wander in and out from the woods outside the garden. That night she appeared on camera eating the food. So the following morning the ‘supertrap’ was set up and we began our wait. And it was a long wait! Her behaviour with the trap showed that she was really nervous of it and she proved to be ‘trap savvy’ meaning she knew what it was. She kept looking up at the top of the doorway as if she was expecting a door to drop down (like a guillotine style trap). Even with the best most smelliest food in there she would not entertain it. We gave her time and placed the food outside the trap to work with building her confidence. She didn’t appear everyday so after a few tries of enticing her to eat near the trap we knew she would not go in it. Not anytime soon anyway. Helen Buckland from Dog SOS Derbyshire very kindly lent us her large enclosure trap so I made the 4 hour journey there and back to collect it. This is even larger than the ‘supertrap’ so we hoped that the extra width and height would help Pippa with entering it.
Pippa at first would not go inside the trap (again looking up at the top of the doorway as if she thought a door would drop down) but after feeding her outside it near the door we managed to build her confidence and she first put one paw in, then the following day a second paw, moving further into the trap. During this time her visits were erratic and she sometimes would not show for a day or two. Then one night she went further into the trap and had her front paws and one back paw inside. Half of her body was in. Sadly, she then disappeared for 5 days. We restarted the postering and waited for sightings to come in.
Then a sighting came in where she was seen on her way to the garden. We waited. As we waited a neighbour appeared on camera in the garden. She was shining a torch at the trap and shouting her cats name. We knew then that Pippa would not show. She didn’t.
A few days later (2.04.22) we learned that she had been seen on Smiths Lodges, off St Peter’s way, a 50 mile speed limit dual carriageway. She was sitting on the top of the embankment, watching the cars go by. I went there straight away, to look at the area and plan where we could put the trap and start again. As I was there she appeared. I sat down and put my head down, not making eye contact or any noise. She watched me from a distance and came a bit nearer so I threw bits of meat to her. After a while I left, but left some food and my T-shirt. (I had been the only person doing her food everyday at the trap in the garden so she knew my smell.) She showed up on camera 3 minutes after I left and ate the food. She then buried my T-shirt.
The following day I returned and sat down waiting to see if she showed herself. Again the same thing happened and this time she came nearer. However, because of the danger from the dual carriageway it was planned to dismantle the enclosure trap from the garden and put it back up where she had moved to.
We put the enclosure trap up the following day and Pippa turned up and ate the food that I placed at the door. As it rained and rained, the ground became very muddy. It transpired that she would not walk through the mud so we put Astro turf down for her. This helped! Each day she made progress, eventually getting all of her body and paws inside the trap. However we needed her to go to the end of the trap so we could activate it and trap her. I cooked meat outside the trap for several hours, and she turned up and ate some food that I put in a bowl for her. She would just not come close enough to catch. I left a toy for her outside the trap each night, and before feeding she would take it away then come back.
On the 9 April, on the live feed from the remote cameras, a man stole a live camera set, a battery from another camera and some of the trap parts. He threw the other cameras in the mud. He tried dismantling the trap to take that too but thankfully was unsuccessful. When her owner went to the trap to ensure that the thief was not still hanging around there, Pippa showed herself to her owner and went to him (he had been prepped with what to do should he see Pippa, which was to get low to the ground and allow Pippa to come to him). Pippa was thankfully caught safely.
Pippa had lost a lot of weight but seemed fine otherwise. She was shattered and very happy to be home. She was checked over by a vet. Her owners have been absolutely wonderful and a delight to work with. They have gone above and beyond to get their baby home. Thank you to the house owner for giving your garden up so we could work with Pippa, to Steve for permission to put the trap on his land, to the dog warden at Bolton Council for your support and help, to everyone who contacted us with sightings, and everyone who took notice of us asking the public to leave her alone to enable us to work with her. Thank you to Helen for lending us your trap, and you and your teams support.