Chihuahua found 6 days after fatal crash

Published 9:00 am Sunday, September 16, 2012

A driver who survived a fatal crash last weekend had lost her Chihuahua for six days until she recovered the pet on Friday morning on a farm two miles north of New Richland.

The dog, Mia, had escaped a Jeep Cherokee driven Sept. 8 by 34-year-old Waseca resident Mandi Kauffman after the sport-utility vehicle collided with a Harley-Davidson being ridden by 56-year-old Morristown resident Jon C. Geibe. The motorcycle rider died, and who is at fault remains under investigation, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

The crash happened three miles north of New Richland on Highway 13, and that’s where Mia, probably scared after the collision, bolted for the cornfields.

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Kauffman said she came back with search parties to hunt for the dog, but she was not found.

“I had been out there several times calling for her, but the cornfields are so thick,” she said.

Kauffman then took to social media. She placed notices of the lost dog on buy-and-sell boards on Facebook for the cities of Waseca, New Richland, Owatonna, Mankato and Albert Lea.

“It just lit up. The support and encouragement, the tips and advice and praying — that, to me, is important,” she said. “My church family has been fabulous in support.”

The post for Albert Lea had 64 comments as of Friday afternoon, many of them joyous to hear that Mia was found. Her story was moving people.

A farm family a mile south of the crash site called Kauffman on Thursday. They had seen a Chihuahua but were unable to catch the dog. She drove out and agreed to let them set a live trap. They got a trap from someone they know and set it out with food and water inside. Kauffman returned Thursday night to holler for Mia in the calm evening air, but the dog didn’t appear. She went back home to Waseca hoping the trap would work.

It did. Around 6:30 a.m. Friday, Mia was caught.

Kauffman drove out to the farm and held her precious pet once again.

“She was crying and happy to see me, as I was her,” she said.

Kauffman took Mia to a veterinarian to be checked out. She has a lot of bug bites and is about a pound and a half under weight. She said Mia weighed 4.2 pounds and at a checkup a month prior the dog weighed 5.5 pounds.

She said Mia slept most of Friday and ate well.

“We’re just happy to be back together. She’s my baby,” Kauffman said.

Kauffman is a licensed foster parent to three children, ages 4 years, 3 years and 7 months. She said she has been getting counseling regarding the fatal crash and has had much support from friends.

She said the farm family declined to be named for the story, considering the crash remains under investigation.

“I’m very grateful to the people on the farm,” she said.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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