Helicopters, wildlife trackers deployed to save missing dog hundreds of kilometres from home

A New South Wales dog breeder is calling in helicopters and wildlife trackers to capture a runaway maremma that has been missing for more than five months.Key points:Brown has travelled hundreds of kilometres since she bolted from her new home in AprilBrown’s breeder is sparing no expense in her effort to catch the livestock guardianA Blue Mountains resident came close to capturing the 17-month-old maremma on several occasionsIt’s an operation on the scale of a search for a missing person — and breeder Carol Betram says losing Brown has been like losing a child.”She doesn’t deserve to be out there,” she said.”She needs to have a good life and it’s not out there.”Horrendous has been the only way to describe it.”Ms Bertram and her husband were the only people Brown knew for the first year of her life.They raised her with goats, sheep, and chickens, training her to become a livestock guardian dog.”She’s a loyal dog to us, but her relationship with other people is limited because she’s had little interaction with anyone else,” Ms Betram said.Brown left the Bertrams’ Southern Highlands home in April to start her career as an animal protector in the paddocks of the Blue Mountains.But she has been on the run since the night she arrived at her new owner’s home.Since then, Brown has travelled several hundred kilometres, from Hazelbrook to Blayney, in the state’s central west, and has been spotted about a dozen times along the way. Dog breeder Carol Bertram raised Brown from when she was a pup.(Supplied: Carol Bertram)Costly retrieval missionCommunity members and dog catchers have made several failed attempts to bring the white, fluffy canine home.Hazelbrook resident Dominic Moore came close to catching Brown.Mr Moore came across the dog and tracked her movements to the Wentworth Falls Grammar School, where she was seen every night for about a month.As a member of several dog rescue groups, Mr Moore said he was able to gain Brown’s trust by crouching on the ground when feeding her.”Slowly, but surely, she became less scared, to the point where I had her within a metre of two of me,” Mr Moore said. Residents have spotted Brown at several locations across the Blue Mountains and the Central West.(ABC Central West: Luke Wong/OpenStreetMaps contributors)He attempted to trap Brown in a tennis court and a cricket net, but to no avail.Some community members have opened their wallets to help with costs of the search reaching several thousand dollars.The helicopter alone, which was sent out twice last week, costs about $1,200 per hour.Wildlife trackers and veterinarians are assembling to tranquilize the dog when she is seen. Livestock Guardian Dogs Australia’s Erin Williams says maremmas have strong survival instincts.(Supplied: Erin Williams)Instinct kicks inLivestock Guardian Dogs Australia founder Erin Williams said she had spent almost 35 years trying to bust myths about the breed.”Having interaction with humans does not dilute their guarding instinct,” she said.The fact that Brown arrived at her new home in the dark may have prompted her flight, Ms Williams said.Find more local newsShe said improper training, a lack of bonding with livestock and poor fencing can make them wander. But Ms Williams said maremmas were extremely resilient dogs and could survive for a long time on the run. “They’re very independent,” she said.”They’re self-thinking dogs.”

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