Lee’s Summit dog rescued from sub-zero conditions in KC after months missing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A dog, missing for months and stranded in the snow, ice and freezing temperatures, finally found her way home thanks to two Kansas City Animal Control officers.

On Wednesday, the officers got a call around Swope Park that a stray dog was in danger near a pond. When they got to the dog, it was 10 feet down against a wall on a small patch of land surrounded by water.

The officers used a ladder to go down the wall and reach the dog. It took five officers in total to bring the dog up to the road. They sent a kennel down the wall, placed the dog in it, and worked together to bring it back up to the top.

The dog was anything but a stray, and it turns out she'd been missing for months.

Kara got out out of her family's fence at the end of November and was a companion for a little girl with autism. When the family was reunited with their dog and best friend, Kara, it was a moment of pure joy.

"I was really crying because I was happy," owner Melissa Oppenheim said. "I was excited. I was on the floor crying."

Watch the emotional reunion in the video player above.

The Oppenheim family with Kara

The whole family was heartbroken when Kara got out, and for months the Lee's Summit family looked for Kara on foot and online. They posted all over Facebook about the dog, offering rewards and pleading for help.

People responded to their call by sharing the dog's picture, and tips came in. People spotted her in Lee's Summit and on her journey to Kansas City. People took pictures of her, and even caught her on their doorbell camera.

But she remained elusive and would run off if anyone got too close.

When KCMO Animal Control Officer Chris Harriman spotted Kara in the embankment on Wednesday, all of that changed.

"From their house, it's almost 10 miles from where we're standing," Harriman said.

Harriman said she was trapped there for three days and believes she may have walked across the frozen pond and got stranded as ice melted and temperatures rose.

"It took two officers, myself and Officer Gomez, to get down this embankment and capture her," he said. "That really wasn't the hard part. The hard part was figuring out a way to get her up the 10 foot, so that took five of us and some ropes."

Once they were able to get her back up to the road, they took her to KC Pet Project, and she was reunited with her family.

"I was in shock because I thought she’d be deceased because of all that cold weather, rain and snow," Oppenheim said. "We don’t know how she got shelter, or how she got fed, or anything -- we were just scared."

"She'd lost a little over 20 pounds, and she'd been about 80 pounds," said Dr. Angela Holt, Kara's veterinarian with Chipman Road Animal Clinic. "But, honestly, considering her circumstances, she looked fantastic."

Holt said she's making a full recovery and is thankful so many people came together to help get Kara home.

"It's just a cool situation to be a part of a resolution for something this positive and this much fun," Harriman said.

"I have no worries for Kara," Holt said. "I think she'll do just fine."

"Thank you so much for helping my dog to come home to us," Oppenheim said.

So many people knew about Kara because of the family's posts on social media. That's how animal control officers said they knew who she belonged to.

Holt said she wasn't microchipped and wants others to know how important it can be when trying to get dogs and cats back home.

Kara is expected to be back to her regular weight in a few months.

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