FORT MADISON – When Shawn Danielson of Fort Madison went out of town for the weekend recently, he left his two dogs inside a fenced area of his yard with access to his garage. Danielson’s father routinely checked on the dogs, which Danielson said were home and safe in the early evening hours of July 29.

However, the next morning when Danielson’s father went back to check on the dogs again, the older, larger dog had dug a hole under the fence. The older dog simply waited for it’s owner’s return on the front porch of the house. However, Danielson’s four-month old golden retriever puppy, Sky, escaped. 

After searching the neighborhood for about a week and a half now with no success, Danielson said he and his three children hope Fort Madison residents will help them find Sky. The puppy is friendly and loves people, he said. Anyone with information on the puppy’s whereabouts can contact Danielson at (319) 470-7984.

A neighbor told Danielson she last spotted the puppy near Central Park in Fort Madison Saturday evening. When lost, Sky was wearing a pink collar with her name written on it in marker.

Danielson said Sky is not registered with the city and does not have city tags. She does not have a microchip, either.

After posting notices about his lost dog on local Facebook pages, Danielson said his posts have continually been reported and removed from the site. This raised suspicions.

“It’s my belief that somebody has her and keeps reporting [my posts] so people won’t put two and two together,” Danielson said.

After serving in Afghanistan, Danielson said he suffers from PTSD and was planning to train Sky as a PTSD service dog.

Sandy Brown, director of PAW Animal Shelter in Fort Madison, said stories like this one highlight the importance of licensing dogs and keeping tags on their collars. Iowa law states dogs are considered property and by six months old must be licensed, she said. 

Lost dogs without tags are difficult to return to their owners. It’s like losing a pair of sunglasses, Brown said.

Guns raise another concern. Brown said if a dog without a collar and tags wanders onto another person's property and scares them, the dog legally can be shot. 

"It's really important that dogs have collars and tags," Brown said.