Cassie Asleson is devastated.
She answers her cell phone on the first ring hoping for good news but as the days trudge closer to a week, the voice that meets callers grows heavier—sadder.
Asleson, who lives in Washington, has plastered Cottage Grove with fliers, assembled a small band of volunteers on Facebook and has driven the city’s streets for 15 hours a day, desperate to find her dog, Ana.
The white pit bull puppy has been missing since Friday, Nov. 23 after she escaped from the family’s car at Village Green.
“I had a pit bull I got in North Carolina,” Asleson said. “I was in an abusive marriage and I left him with just the dog, Roxie. She got cancer this summer.” Once it was clear Roxie’s chemotherapy treatments had stopped working, a heartbroken Asleson started talking to breeders and looking online for another white pit bull, to ease the pain of losing eight-year-old Roxie.
“I couldn’t find one. I texted the vet on Oct. 8 to schedule Roxie’s at-home euthanasia and an hour later, I got an email about Ana. It felt like Roxy’s way of saying it was going to be ok,” Asleson said, her voice clogged with tears.
Ana was only with Asleson for six weeks and as a rescue, she hasn’t quite gotten the hang of her name yet and is still scared of her surroundings. It’s the first domino in a disastrous line of out-of-the-ordinary events that led to Ana’s initial disappearance.
“My in-laws are from Albany and usually, for Thanksgiving, we go to the coast,” Asleson said. “But they saw an advertisement for the buffet at the Village Green.”
It led the family to Cottage Grove and Black Friday coaxed them to Eugene.
“I wouldn’t usually bring her to the store but we weren’t going to be long and so I got her in the car,” Asleson said. “So, that’s what makes it worse, this is my fault, I shouldn’t have opened the door,” she cried.
Ana jumped out of the car and, startled by her unfamiliar environment, took off.
Asleson took to Facebook, garnering more than a hundred comments among several posts for help with some residents offering to join her in her search as she drove 15 hours a day, logging 450 miles around Cottage Grove.
There have been some sightings reported but, due to her breed and color, Ana is difficult to track down.
“There are at least four other white pit bulls but when you see them, they’re happy they’re with their owners, that’s not Ana. She would be struggling to get away, they would have to keep her on a leash because she wouldn’t willingly follow anyone. I just know she’s so scared,” Asleson said.
The most credible sighting, Asleson says, is one from a trailer park near Calvary Chapel that reported a white pit bull was caught by an individual who appeared to be a transient.
“They said she was struggling and didn’t want to be caught or held and that’s what Ana would do,” she said.
While the Calvary Chapel has security cameras, they didn’t record the incident.
On Tuesday, Asleson had to return to Washington, but will be back on Friday to continue searching, noting Ana may be running out of time.
“When we got her, because she’s a rescue, she had kennel cough and hookworm. She’s still being treated for that and she was supposed to have her medicine on Monday. I asked my vet if she could die and she just needs her medicine,” she said.
Asleson is offering a $200 reward for Ana’s return.
“If you have her, no one is mad, we won’t press charges, I just want her back,” she said. “I’m glad you have her and she’s not dying in the woods but I just want her back. The people in your town have been so nice and I could never repay them.”
Ana is seven months old, has big ears (that may appear up or down) and is white. She is skittish and does not know her name. She was wearing a pink collar when she escaped but it may have been removed.
Any sightings can be reported to Asleson at (360) 601-6870 or the non-emergency Cottage Grove Police line at (541) 942-9145.