Drones To Assist In Search For Lost Dog McKenzie, Spotted Several Times Since Disappearing Last Summer

TROY (WWJ) – The search for a lost dog in Troy is heading to the skies.

McKenzie, a 5-year-old Treeing Walker Coonhound, has been missing since June 22. She was scared by some fireworks while visiting friends in Ferndale with her mom, Cynthia Booth, and ran away. Since that day, McKenzie has been spotted all over the city of Troy, where Booth lives, but no one has been able to capture the dog, who grew very afraid of people after being abandoned by her original owners in 2012.

Over the past several months, many reports have surfaced of McKenzie being seen within the community. The search area has been narrowed, confirmations made, and now a new attempt to find McKenzie will happen this weekend.

The Great Lakes Drone Company, along with Aerial Imagery Works of Detroit, will be utilizing drone capabilities as a new avenue to find and locate McKenzie.

“This amazing group of strangers have come together to become friends and have not given up hope on bringing McKenzie home,” Reyna Price, spokesperson for Great Lakes Drone Company, said in a statement. “We are proud to be a part of such hope, goodness, and community spirit.”

On Sunday, Feb. 19, drones will be searching for McKenzie in the Troy community within the areas selected from last known sightings in combination of confirmation with a certified dog tracking agency. A variety of methods are being deployed from aerial mapping, visual search parameters and aerial thermal imaging to hopefully bring McKenzie home for good.

“Our operations will take place between 100-300 feet above ground level during our search patterns,” said Price.

The last possible McKenzie sighting took place on Feb. 8, first in the area of Wattles and Crooks around 3:30 p.m., and then again in the area of Beach and Long Lake around 6:30 p.m.

If you see McKenzie, call Booth at 586-604-6555.

Finding (Credit: McKenzie/Facebook)

Finding (Credit: McKenzie/Facebook)

McKenzie’s Story

Booth, who lives near Long Lake and Rochester roads in Troy, rescued McKenzie in 2012. She had been abandoned by her original owners and ended up in a shelter, where she grew very afraid of people. In an effort to help her trust humans more, Booth brought McKenzie along with her everywhere she went.

On June 22, 2016, Booth was visiting friends in Ferndale, so McKenzie tagged along to improve on her socialization skills. But around 10 p.m., someone in the neighborhood lit off firecrackers, which sent McKenzie into full panic mode.

“She hopped the fence, got spooked and took off,” Booth told WWJ’s Laura Bonnell.

Booth searched the neighborhood, but found no signs of McKenzie. Heartbroken, she returned home. Days later, Booth heard about a dog sighting near her home that matched the description of McKenzie. She searched and searched and searched, but still couldn’t find her baby.

Days turned to weeks as Booth posted fliers on every corner and asked neighbors for help finding McKenzie. She also notified animal control and police, who actually found McKenzie on two occasions but she ran from them. At this point, Booth was hearing word of at least three sightings of McKenzie a week, but she never found her for herself.

“They think she’s been following garbage days a little bit,” said Booth. “The city of Troy has a lot of restaurants where she might be dumpster diving.”

Weeks turned to months. Then police told Booth she had to remove her lost dog posters from public property, citing a code violation. Booth was devastated. As she took the signs down, people unfortunately thought McKenzie had been found and Booth’s phone stopped ringing.

But she wasn’t giving up hope. Booth turned to social media and started posting McKenzie’s picture everywhere. She created a Facebook page for McKenzie and set up a donation page to help fund search parties. She even hired a professional lost dog searcher who set up nearly two dozen cameras around Troy with feeding stations in wooded areas.

“I have a live trap ready to try to actually catch her once she’s caught on camera,” said Booth.

Even though the dog finder hasn’t been able to catch McKenzie, she has been able to establish a pattern of behavior. McKenzie could be somewhere in Troy, on the west side of I-75, from anywhere between Rochester/Maple all the way to just south of Square Lake/Adams. And the latest sighting was made just earlier this month.

Booth says McKenzie seems to be stuck in survival mode and is avoiding people. She is staying off main roads for the most part, traveling through back yards, and is especially good at keeping out of sight.

Booth is asking anyone who lives in the area or who is willing to help search for McKenzie to keep her phone number handy in case they spot her — 586-604-6555. If you see McKenzie, do not approach her. She is very timid and if someone tries to get her, she will run. If you do see McKenzie, take a photo if you can, note your location and call Booth as soon as possible — day or night.

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