Leo knows his daily routine, one in which he gets in a van almost every weekday afternoon and goes home after playing with other dogs at Royal Pet Resort.
He’s also fiercely loyal to his regimen, so much that he panicked when the van left without him, which was the plan on Friday. Leo, a 170-pound Leonberger, broke through a standard gate and two double latch security gates to escape the resort. He ran down the resort’s driveway and about a half-mile on a road in pursuit of the van, but gave up.
The gentle giant with brute strength has been missing since Friday in the area, which is near state game lands. The resort is located at 500 Maurer Lane in Julian, and Leo has stayed their during mornings and afternoons for three years. His family is afraid a hunter might mistake him for game.
“It’s been very difficult,” Savanna Woika, a family member, said. “Everyone is being helpful. We just want him to settle into a routine in one area. We’re not going out and calling him for him to come home. He needs to settle into a routine, and we need to let the area be calm.”
Woika, of State College, stressed that if anyone sees Leo they should not shout at him or approach him.
The proper way to attract him is to calmly walk away and softly say “Leo, Leo” in an effort to get him to follow. He might also jump into a vehicle with a door open as long as the person who has it open has their back turned to Leo.
“If we face him and make eye contact and yell their name, it’s pressure and induces fear in them,” Royal Pet Resort Owner Becky Koleno said. “We want Leo to be comfortable in one area, provide food and water and hope he stays there and comes to us.”
Koleno has enlisted the help of others, including Pet Recovery of Centre County, to recover Leo.
Anyone who spots Leo should immediately call Pet Recovery at 933-8195 and Royal Pet Resort at 692-8279.
“It’s awful to think about the risks of Leo being lost,” Koleno said. “I have called in every resource we can for him. I’ve had customers who had really good success with an animal communicator and we’ve been trying that over last few days to get communication with him.”
Live traps have been set in the area that Leo is located, which Koleno and Woika want to keep secret. The more quiet and undisturbed the area is, the easier it will be to recover him. The search group and the resort have also placed water, food and pieces of the family’s clothes in the area to hopefully make Leo comfortable with his surroundings.
Koleno said she has also started the van with the doors open every afternoon in hopes of Leo being attracted by the sound. The ploy has involved loading other dogs inside, which might prompt Leo to do the same if he saw what was happening. She is also leaving a van door open overnight in case he wanders toward it, sees it and gets in with the familiar knowledge that it would take him home.