Pet owner ’emotional and happy’ after lost dog Lani found on day 18 of search

Lani the lost dog has been found alive after going missing while being moved by a pet transport service earlier in November.

Aleisha Blackley bought the 16-month-old Shih Tzu-Bichon cross from a Kaitaia seller on Trade Me.

With air animal transport suspended under Covid conditions, Blackley arranged for Hopkins Horse Transport, a pet transport service, to collect Lani from Northland and take her south to her new Queenstown home.

Hopkins Horse Transport owner Tierney Hopkins collected Lani on Thursday, November 4. By the following Wednesday, he had reached Blenheim, where he stopped at Marlborough Saleyards at 8.30am.

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As he would later describe in a message to Blackley, Hopkins took Lani out of his vehicle and put her on the ground by his ute.

At previous pitstops, Lani had “awkwardly stayed under the ute”, Hopkins wrote. However, this time she had “slunk off”. CCTV footage from the yard shows the small dog trotting into the yard and disappearing.

Hopkins earlier told Stuff he had been nearby, but had “turned his back” on the dog. By the time he discovered Lani was missing, an hour had passed.

Hopkins told Blackley he spent four hours searching for her pet, she said. However, CCTV footage shows Hopkins driving away 20 minutes after discovering Lani’s absence.

Hopkins waited 25 hours to tell Blackley her dog was missing, in a message that began “Hi I’ve got some bad news”.

Horrified, Blackley took the first flight to Blenheim and searched into the night for her pet without any luck.

Work commitments forced Blackley to return to Queenstown after a few days, leaving a friend and local organisations to continue the search.

Fortunately, 18 days later, the pooch was found, about 2km from where she went missing.

“What an emotional and happy day today is,” Blackley wrote on the Facebook page Bring Home Lani on Sunday night.

“Lani was spotted today at 2pm on the highway about 2km from where she was lost by a lovely lady called Nicola, she nearly got hit by a car and shot down the side ditch out into the paddock.

“Nicola’s partner quickly jumped out and chased Lani down while Nicola was on the phone to me.

“We then rushed her to the vet for urgent attention,” she wrote on social media.

Lani’s relieve owner says her pet is in “the best possible place she could be right now”. She would find out more about the dog’s condition on Monday morning.

Blackley thanked everyone who helped make the search for Lani a success.

“It was so reassuring knowing so many people cared about finding Lani as much as I did,” she wrote on Facebook.

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