While his family — Susan and Stephanie Rollet and their two children, Luc and Emilie —was leaving for a Christmas skiing vacation on December 21, Mocha escaped the Farm in Pattenburg, the facility where he was being boarded. While a handler was walking Mocha on his first evening at the Farm, the handler slipped on a patch of ice, giving Mocha the perfect opportunity to jump a fence and bolt.
When the Rollets got word of Mocha’s escape, they immediately cancelled their vacation plans and got to work trying to find their four-legged family member. As the weeks went by with Mocha still missing, through blizzards, ice storms, and the frigid temps of the polar vortex, Mocha’s family scoured the streets and took to social media, refusing to give up on the idea that their dog was out there somewhere.
Susan Rollet posted a note on her personal Facebook page about Mocha’s disappearance, and through various friends and animal rescue channels, she got word about a Facebook group called Lost and Found Pets New Jersey, where pet parents of lost dogs and cats and those who have found a missing animal can come together to hopefully coordinate happy reunions.
As soon as Mocha’s photo and description hit the Facebook page’s wall, hundreds of kind people mobilized, sharing Mocha’s information, canvassing the neighborhoods near the Rollet’s home in Berkeley Heights and the area surrounding the boarding facility. When the Hunterdon County Animal Response Team (CART) distributed Mocha’s photo, the Rollets started getting leads from people who’d seen Mocha on the run since he escaped the Farm.
“I got another 1,500 shares and more than 200 comments,” Susan Rollet says of her social media efforts in the search for Mocha.
She says she and her family couldn’t believe how many people came out of the woodwork to help find Mocha, many who she had never even met.
“They hung posters, searched the woods, put things on their Facebook pages, fliers in mailboxes,” Susan says.
Finally, the evening of January 10, Mocha was found, and the person who rescued him did so completely by chance.
Phillipsburg, N.J. resident Ryan Muentnich was driving along Route 78 when all of a sudden, he spotted something furry near the side of the road, stuck to the guardrail. When he got closer, Muentnich saw it was a dog. Rather than continue driving, he got out of his car and tried to help.
“Ryan stopped his truck, backed up and proceeded to sit on the ground waiting for Mocha to calm down enough for him to free him and read his tag,” Susan tells NJ.com.
It was clearly fate, the Rollets believe. Muentnich, who had no idea about the search for missing Mocha, even had a bag of dog treats in his truck. After freeing Mocha from the guardrail, he was able to use Mocha’s identification tag to call the very relieved Rollet family. After three long weeks on the lam, Mocha was finally going to come home.
“As soon as Mocha saw me he jumped into my arms crying,” Susan remembers. She says she couldn’t be more grateful for Ryan Muentnich and his role in finding Mocha.
“I jumped into Ryan’s arms crying,” says Susan. “It was an unbelievable ending to a long, long, three weeks.”
Even though Mocha was outside during some of the worst winter weather conditions in years, he was in surprisingly good condition.
“He has a good thick coat of fur. His fur wasn’t matted, he wasn’t cold and he didn’t lose that much weight,” Susan says of Mocha, who is now resting comfortably at home. “It shows how resourceful a determined dog can be.”