Thousands have kept watch for Leo, dozens have gone out looking for him and a few finally caught up to the 160-pound gentle giant who was trying to find his way home to his family.
Leo didn’t quite make it back to his doorstep — rescuers saved him Friday morning near Mount Nittany Medical Center — but his “Homeward Bound”-esque journey is no less impressive.
The 3-year-old Leonberger is a regular at Royal Pet Resort, but he went missing Dec. 1 when he escaped a fence and pushed through two security gates. He initially pursued a van that would usually take him home, but he gave up after about a half-mile.
The staff at Royal Pet Resort didn’t forget about Leo — he was supposed to stay for the weekend when the family had to be out of town.
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The most recent possible sighting of Leo’s had been near Rite Aid and Wiscoy on Tuesday evening, less than a mile from his home. He was spotted again by motorists Friday morning running on U.S. Route 322 before he ran to the field behind the hospital.
Nate Koleno, son of Becky Koleno who owns Royal Pet Resort, was able to loop leash Leo and reunited him with his family. Pet Recovery of Centre County volunteer Susan Harpster said Leo was taken to a veterinarian by his family, but appears to be OK.
“These dogs are survivors,” Harpster said. “Our biggest fear wasn’t food or shelter. They’re resourceful. Dogs find food, water and shelter. Our biggest fear is he’s gonna be hit by a car, and our concern is also for motorists.”
Harpster said the rescue happened the way it needed to — with someone who knew Leo comforting him and without the chaos of dozens of onlookers flooding the area.
The Woika family, Royal Pet Resort, PRCC, Allison Photo & Aerial Imaging and local law enforcement were involved in the two-week search for Leo.