#PetsNextdoor Member Stories

Neighbors Come Together to Catch Chawoo the Stray

Written by Anne Dreshfield

For Chawoo the stray dog in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, it was a long road until he found his forever home.

Long before he was a stray in a Florida neighborhood, Chawoo’s story began in China. He was rescued from the Yulin Festival, where dogs are sacrificed in celebration of the summer solstice. After traveling halfway around the world, Chawoo was settling into his new home in Florida. His owner, Ellen, had only had him for a short time, but the two were growing closer.

“People were on Nextdoor every day to check in on Chawoo’s long journey home.”
One day, Chawoo slipped out of his collar while out on a walk, disappearing from the neighborhood. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months – all the while, neighbors would catch sight of Chawoo in the community. He loved to come up to other dogs and play with them, but as soon as a human would reach out to him he ran – fast.

The surrounding communities were abuzz on Nextdoor with sightings of Chawoo, recommendations on how to catch him, and a concentrated effort to find his owner. Various neighbors put together the pieces: Chawoo’s owner likely didn’t live in their neighborhood, and no one knew how to go about finding her.

Luckily, one neighbor had an idea. He had followed the posts on Nextdoor and decided to broaden the community’s search radius. He began to scour Craigslist for the entire city of Port Saint Lucie, looking for any lost dog notices that matched Chawoo’s description.

Soon, he struck gold. He contacted Ellen through the Craigslist post, and the two quickly determined that Chawoo was the dog seen running loose in their community. Ellen lived in an entirely different neighborhood and had no idea the community was trying to catch Chawoo and return him to his home.

Together, the search was on. Neighbors timed walking their own dogs with Chawoo’s sightings to see if they could lure him closer. The neighborhood’s security guards even joined in, leaving out food for Chawoo at the beginning and end of every shift to try and catch him. Finally, one neighbor managed to use his own dog to entice Chawoo to come closer, letting both dogs play together to build trust. After a few days, Chawoo was lured into the man’s backyard to play with the other dog. Chawoo was caught!

Ellen had originally offered $2,000 for Chawoo’s safe return, and her offer still stood. The neighbor who caught Chawoo split the reward with the security guards and other neighbors who had spent hours, days, and weeks looking for Chawoo.

“Chawoo’s homecoming was the first great ‘lost and found’ in our neighborhood and all of our Nearby Neighborhoods on Nextdoor,” shares one neighbor. “People were on Nextdoor every day to check in on Chawoo’s long journey home.”

After dozens of posts, hundreds of comments, and a very long road, we’re glad Chawoo made it there.


Do you have a story about how you’ve used Nextdoor in your neighborhood? Let us know.

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