Woman reunites with dog she lost 16 months earlier

A Florida woman is making headlines after reuniting with her beloved English mastiff after more than a year, Action News JAX reports.

Loved ones are now trying to raise money on GoFundMe to cover medical treatments for the dog, named Rayla, who managed to slip out of her leash and then vanished into the woods in November 2016. The mastiff suffered skin infections and wounds during her 16-month disappearance and faces having a leg amputation due to a serious injury believed to have been caused by a wild game trap.

Rayla reunited with her owner after 16 months. (Photo: GoFundMe)

Though Rayla has dropped a significant amount of weight and is still recovering from her injuries, friends say her story is one with a happy ending — and a special message for those who have lost pets.

“This story is for everyone who has lost a pet and feels hopeless,” Lisabeth Beutler-Gagnon wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Rayla miraculously survived on her own in the forest for 16 months having to find all food and shelter, drinking from water sources with water snakes and alligators, coexisting with wild animals like coyotes for two winters, two hunting seasons and a hot summer with a traumatically amputated leg.

“Unless you have confirmation that your pet is deceased, do not give up,” she continued. “Remember Rayla’s story, the power of prayer, how resourceful animals can be and the sheer power of the will to survive.”

Rayla’s survival is indeed against the odds. She disappeared into the woods while her owner was undergoing medical treatment, leaving Rayla in the care of friends. According to Beutler-Gagnon, great efforts were made to find her, using search parties, thermal night-vision cameras, and local rescue groups.

Though search efforts were unsuccessful, Rayla was eventually spotted eight months later by a local family, who offered food. Animal Control was unable to retrieve the dog, and the family eventually turned to the assistance of Saving With Soul Rescue. As luck would have it, the rescue group recognized Rayla’s story and notified her owner.

The owner went to the family’s home near the woods, called Rayla’s name, and was greeted by the sight of her long-lost dog running into her arms.

More than $2,200 has been raised toward Rayla’s medical bills. Beutler-Gagnon posted that she hopes to have prosthetics fitted for the dog, with excess donations going to Saving With Soul Rescue.

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