AURORA, Colo. — Maria Pontiero is desperately trying to find her missing dog that escaped while staying with a sitter.
“When I saw Macie on the website, I immediately fell in love with her,” said Pontiero.
Pontiero adopted Macie — a cattle dog, blue heeler, collie mix — in June 2022 when she was six months old. Fast forward to New Year’s weekend, Pontiero and her husband planned to go away, so they took Macie to the pet sitter.
“The gal who actually trained Macie volunteered to watch Macie over that weekend, which we felt would be a better option than using other boarding places,” said Pontiero.
The couple dropped Macie off with the sitter — a familiar face who had trained the dog for three weeks — at a meeting spot, but the couple received an unexpected call the following morning.
“She had let Macie out to go potty, and Macie had jumped the fence,” Pontiero explained.
Macie was staying at the sitter's house on Emporia Street in Aurora, and has been missing ever since.
“I wish I would have asked questions," Pontiero said. "When we got to her house, I saw there was a three-foot fence in the back with just this taller grass, like, screen. That's not gonna keep a dog in."
Denver7 spoke with the sitter's employer, Art of the Dog Canine Academy in Denver. The owner told Denver7 they have since fired the trainer for lying about the incident.
Art of the Dog Canine Academy said prior to Macie's disappearance, their trainers were allowed to work as a dog sitter outside of the academy, but the company has since changed their policy.
Pontiero has been hanging fliers all over Denver and setting out dog traps in hopes of finding Macie. Many people in the community have stepped up to help, including Linda Meek, a canine tracker who works independently and through Front Range Lost Pet Rescue.
“We use, like, a scent article from the home — like a pet bed or dog bowls, anything with a scent on it — and we will show it to the tracking dog. The dog will take up the scent and then start verifying for us whether or not the dog in question has been in the area or not,” Meek explained.
Meek says Sunday was the last time her tracking dog smelled Macie's scent.
She says it's so important to vet the people you're considering watching your dog. She suggests checking references, doing a home check, making sure they're licensed and insured and that they have a fence no less than 6 1/2 feet tall.
“Don’t ever assume that person is truly experienced enough or trained properly or has the right credentials to actually be pet sitting,” said Meek.
This is something Pontiero wishes she would have done, and now will do anything to get Macie back.
“If you do see her, or you do have Macie, please bring her home. We really do miss her,” said Pontiero.
Macie didn't have her dog tags on, but did have an e-collar on and is microchipped. If you find her, give Pontiero a call at 605-376-5756.