The Cantrons weren’t from Dothan, AL and had no ties to the community. Even though they were technically strangers, the Alabama community rallied together and searched for their daughter’s lost dog for two days just to bring them some solace after she died in a terrible car crash.
University of Arkansas student McKenzie Amanda Grace Catron and her passenger were driving through Dothan when their car veered off the road and into a telephone pole around 3 a.m. The passenger thankfully survived, but Catron did not.
A witness told police that they saw a pit bull flee from the car after the crash.
That’s when the Dothan community came together to help find Kai the pit bull and bring her back to the Cantrons. Local animal lovers Benjamin and Christine Irwin thought the family would be comforted by the dog’s return and decided to start a search party to find Kai.
The Irwins reached out to some of their friends and began spreading the word on social media.
“We just really wanted this family to have this piece of their family back, something to help remember their daughter,” Benjamin Irwin told AL.com.
Their initial search party produced no results but as their social media following grew, they began to hear about people who said they saw Kai.
Soon there were hundreds of people in the community, including, firefighters, police, and other volunteers, who were searching for Kai. The Irwins decided to offer a $1,000 reward for the dog’s return.
“We felt we needed to find the dog,” Dothan Police Sgt. Jonathon Whaley told FOX 5. “We were going to do whatever we needed to do to reunite this go with this family.”
The Irwins were out one day searching for Kai near a Dollar General and Piggly Wiggly when Kai came sprinting through the parking lot. The Irwins and a volunteer named Allen Van Slyke spent about the next half-hour driving around and running after Kai.
They finally caught her in a shed and immediately brought her to a vet to be checked out. Thankfully, she was only a little dehydrated.
Whaley, who was one of the first officers on the scene of the crash, and his wife made the 12-hour drive, stopping in between so Kai could rest, to return Kai to the Cantrons.
“I felt that God impressing on me that we needed to make this trip,” Whaley said.
Irwin later spoke with McKenzie’s father who said the family’s “spirits were lifted” now that Kai was home. The Alabama community also reached out to see if there was anything they could do to help the family of the passenger in the accident.
The Irwin’s donated the reward money to the shelter where Kai was adopted and said they were astounded by the outpouring of support given by strangers in their efforts to find Kai.
“It was just amazing. It was one of those events that went beyond everything we think of as people,” Benjamin Irwin said. “We had so many people who didn’t know each other but everybody was working in unison to make sure this dog got to go home to her father.”
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