'Our family is complete': Family reunited with dog who spent 10 days in ND cold
After an accident and more spending more than a week in the North Dakota cold, Kota, an 11-month old boxer, is finally where he belongs, with his family.
"Our family is complete now," Susan Love, Kota's owner, said. "... It's a miracle to us. He is rough-looking but he's going to make it through this. He's going to be fine."
Love's husband and brother-in-law were driving two U-Hauls while Love's sister drove her car with the couple's two other dogs across more than 2,000 miles cross-country from Oregon to Virginia, Minn. Love was driving her husband's pickup with Kota and his mate, Stormy, inside. However, on Nov. 3 outside of Dickinson, Love hit a patch of black ice, causing her vehicle to roll. Love said when she looked down, she thought Kota was dead.
"Kota ended up in the front, on the floor and I thought he was dead," she said. "He didn't move. He just sat there just staring at me, he didn't blink, nothing. He was in shock."
But, when Love went to move Kota to get her driver's license for officers the dog got loose and ran for than half a mile away scared and confused.
"He was gone. We just figured we lost him," she said. "I didn't want to leave."
Love said she gave the state troopers her contact information in case Kota was spotted or found overnight, but when the couple went to continue looking for the dog the next morning, he couldn't be found.
"It was really hard for me, but we had to continue on," she said. "... If it was up to me I would have stayed in Dickinson until we found him, whether he was dead or alive."
Love said they had so many unanswered questions until they got a call on Nov. 13, 10 days after the crash, that Kota was safe after wandering up to a home outside of Dickinson.
"We figured he was dead, after that many days and not hearing anything that he did not survive because (we heard) it had gotten down to zero (degrees) a couple of nights. I thought there's no way he's going to survive that," she said. "When she called me I looked over at my husband and he said 'What?' I said 'They found Kota.' I teared up, he teared up. It was unbelieveable. It was like a miracle had dropped on us."
The couple was reunited with Kota on Saturday, Nov. 18, in Fargo, more than two weeks after the initial crash.
Brenna Hutmacher, vice president of Bakken Paws, said having Kota microchipped likely saved his life. She noted it is important that people keep up-to-date information on the chip and get it renewed every year if necessary.
"Just keep identification on your dogs because it saved his life," she said. "They wrote him off for dead and they said they could not believe the day they got the call and said 'We have Kota.'"
While Kota still has a lot of scars and scabs on him from his time likely running from coyotes and trying to stay warm during the cold North Dakota nights, Love is glad she had her dogs microchipped and encourages others to do the same.
"He is in rough shape, but I just thank God he was chipped and he had his collar on," Love said. "I firmly, firmly believe in microchipping your animals. I don't care if it's a cat, dog, whatever, because that is what brought him back to us."
Love said she is grateful for everyone who spent time looking for Kota and who helped in any way to bring him back to them.
"It was like an angel was watching over him," she said.