Sara Alford's German Shepherd, Java, is safe at home now. But this week, he gave his mom quite a scare.
On Wednesday, Sara let our her three dogs to the yard in Pecatonica. Moments later, she says she heard barking and went to let them in. But when she opened the door, only her two Shelties were there.
"He's usually right behind them," said Sara.
Sara says she then looked out the front door.
"A dark car like sped away and all I could see was him in the back seat."
Sara says without thinking, she sprang into action.
"I quick ran in here grabbed my car keys and out the back door to jump in my car and go after them."
Luckily, Sara says she didn't have to go far to be reunited with Java.
"By the time I got out to Hoisington they dumped him out the back out the car. He was down there waiting for me. I'm just glad whatever spooked them enough to dump them. It happened."
When it comes to preventing these types of situations, Winnebago County Animal Services says vigilance is key.
"Whenever you let your pet outside, whether it's in the country or in a residential neighborhood you should always keep and eye on it," says WCAS Deputy Director Dave Kaske. "Not only for it's safety, but for others. Make sure it doesn't run off the property, chase other wildlife or dogs or cats."
Another tip to protect your pet, get them microchipped. So if a criminal or good Samaritan brings them to the vet, you'll be the first to know.
"The vet can scan it and do a search on the microchip and find the owner and let them know we found their pet and try to reunite them," says Kaske.
All three of Sara's dogs are microchipped, and she says she'll be closely watching them now. But wants other owners to do the same thing.
"Don't be lulled into a false sense of security. I mean I'm guilty of it clearly. I mean I dropped the ball on this one. I shouldn't have just trusted that they'd be fine out there."
Winnebago County Animal Services says it offers discounts for microchipping on Fridays. You can reach them at (815) 319-4100.