LEONIA, N.J. -- A land, air and creek search for a runaway Leonia dog hit by a car on Route 95 ended happily Wednesday night for her owners -- and borough police.
Julie was reunited with the Broad Avenue couple eight days after she limped off the highway into the woods, Police Chief Thomas Rowe told Daily Voice.
"I never understood the bond between a dog and a family," said Rowe, who was trying to stop high-speed traffic at the bend near Exit 71 when the white jindo was struck. "But we got our daughter a yellow lab for her 19th birthday six months ago.
"I get it now."
Officers responding to the March 8 report of a large dog running free near the Englewood border around 12:30 p.m. tried to corral her, but Julie ran up the exit ramp from Broad Avenue.
Rowe pulled onto the highway and spotted her running along the shoulder.
"I'm freaking out, thinking she's going to get hit," he said, "so I try stopping traffic -- in my unmarked vehicle with cars coming at me at 65-70 miles an hour. A tractor-trailer came within about two inches of destroying me."
Julie then dashed across the local lanes to the median. Rowe watched in horror as she was struck seconds later. That car was then rear-ended by another.
"That car was doing at least 60 [mph], probably more. My heart sank," he said. "Her body was all contorted when she came out."
Rowe ran to evaluate the injured as Julie limped off.
For four days, officers and animal rescue workers searched the woods on foot.
Borough resident Warren Atheras put up a drone for three days, with no luck.
A crew team that uses Overpeck Creek even loaned pollice a motorboat.
It was a challenge. Jindos overall are gentle and loving, but they're wary of strangers.
At 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, police got a call of a white dog loose on Ray Avenue.
Rowe texted the responding officer a photo of a jindo.
"That's it!" the officer said.
Police contacted Min Woo Kim and his wife, Insun Kim, telling them "there's a good chance their dog was still alive," Rowe said. They then put out some food and waited.
Four hours later, someone spotted Julie in a backyard.
Officers went down and snatched her up.
"I've been on all kinds of calls in my career -- homicides, assaults, you name it," Rowe told Daily Voice. "Children and animals are always the toughest, because they're helpless.
"The lesson here, like anything else in the world, is don't give up."
Rowe couldn't help but beam.
"With everything bad that's going on in this world," he said, "it's a great way to end a shift."
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