By Ryan Harding / ADOT Communications
Early in the morning on Sunday, May 19, ADOT Maintenance Supervisor Brett Rupp was driving west on SR 260 along the Mogollon Rim east of Payson when he spotted something out of the ordinary. A Shetland sheepdog, more commonly referred to as a Sheltie, was headed in the opposite direction along the highway shoulder.
Immediately recognizing the dog didn’t belong there, Rupp radioed his crew for help.
He stopped and tried to get Wrigley, the dog's name, but she crossed to the median of the highway.
The rest of the crew – Scott Umbenhauer, Casey Bramlet, Shane Reynolds, and Bobby Millard – arrived on scene. Working together, the team spread out along both sides of the highway and managed to capture Wrigley and get her to safety.
Calling the phone number on Wrigley’s collar, the crew got in touch with the owners and arranged to meet them at the Ponderosa Campground where the family was staying.
It turns out Wrigley escaped from the family camping site around 4:30 p.m. the day before. After a late night and early morning of searching and following leads with no results, the Pacini family began to fear the worst had happened to their furry family member – that is until they received a phone call from the ADOT crew about 7:15 that morning.
“We couldn’t have gotten better news when the ADOT crew told us they had her,” said John Pacini, Wrigley’s owner. “We are so grateful to the ADOT workers who took the time to rescue our dog. It may seem like a small act of kindness, but to me and my family, it is a huge event.”
The workers were just glad they were in the right place at the right time.
“We’re glad we were able to return the dog to its family,” said Rupp. “Whether it’s a lost dog or a stranded motorist, we’re happy to help when we can.”