A guide dog who sparked an extensive search after going missing in Lapeer County has been found dead, officials said Monday.
A tip led searchers to Brinkley, a 19-month-old yellow female Labrador retriever who worked with Leader Dogs for the Blind, in the Almont area, said Rachelle Kniffen, the group’s communications director.
A cause of death was not yet available. Police are not investigating, she said.
“We would like to thank everyone who helped to search, hang posters and spread the word. A special thank you to the Lost Dog Search Team of Michigan for their tireless efforts in searching for Brinkley,” Kniffen wrote in a Facebook post. “Through this trying time those closest to Brinkley have been comforted by the outpouring of support from both the Leader Dog and local communities.”
The dog went missing from a home near Dryden Road in Almont last month, according to the Friends of Leader Dogs for the Blind Facebook page.
Brinkley had been living with Jackie McKeon, who is legally blind, for about 10 days. They previously bonded during a nearly month-long program at the Leader Dog’s Rochester Hills facility.
“I thought she was a perfect match for me,” McKeon said Monday. “I loved that little dog. She was just perfect.
Her owner believes the canine fled after being scared off by a lawnmower. Those seeking the dog were advised not to chase her since she has been described as shy.
Over the next several weeks, volunteers with the Lost Dog Search Team logged many hours canvassing the area. Posters also were distributed to help spark tips, and news reached thousands on Facebook.
“It was just amazing the outpouring of help and love,” McKeon said. “The community spirit here just amazes me.”
News of the dog’s death stunned supporters online.
“Absolutely heartbroken,” one user wrote on Facebook. “RIP sweet girl.”
Another posted: “I’m so sad for everyone & was really hoping for better news. Poor little puppy. I’m going to cry now.”