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Facebook, friends trying to help capture lost pooch

Tank male Chocolate Lab mix has been missing since January 5 2013 Yorkville. | Submitted photo

Tank, a male Chocolate Lab mix has been missing since January 5, 2013 in Yorkville. | Submitted photo

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Updated: February 28, 2013 6:33AM

It’s not like her dog is lost.

Renea Selders knows exactly where Tank has been since the chocolate Lab/beagle mix broke away from her in the parking lot of the Yorkville Animal Hospital on Jan. 5 and dashed across Route 47.

For the past three weeks, Tank has been on the loose — and on the move — mostly hanging out in an industrial park across the street from the veterinary hospital, as well as in the Greenbrier Subdivision and in the wooded area between Routes 126 and 71 in Yorkville.

Selders knows all that because there’s been plenty of Tank sightings. In fact, the search for the chunky brown mutt with a white chest has taken on a life of its on, thanks to a cyberspace brimming with like-minded dog lovers who have come together on social networking sites, including “Please Help Us Find Tank,” a Facebook page created by a perfect stranger aiding Selders’ quest.

That site and a crop of other Facebook pages, like “Lost Dogs Illinois,” have generated thousands of hits offering everything from prayers and advice to real life search and rescue help.

“I’ve been overwhelmed,” Selders said of the support she’s received since first putting up an old-fashioned Lost Dog sign along Route 47 soon after Tank made his big escape. One woman not only suggested using a bigger trap, she went out and purchased the expensive piece of equipment, then delivered it to Selders and her boyfriend Greg Zimmerman, refusing to accept payment.

And, while many dog lovers have gone out looking for Tank on their own, one woman joined Selders on a frigid day last week while she sat outside in the cold, hoping to lure the dog into a cage filled with smelly meat.

“She actually lay down on the frozen ground with food on her belly for a couple hours,” Selders said of the woman.

And that, folks, is the difference between dog lovers and dog LOVERS.

Selders easily admits she and Zimmerman, a Batavia chiropractor, are among the latter. The couple has 13 dogs between the two of them on their two-acre home in unincorporated Oswego, many of which were rescued when they lived near a kill-shelter in Carbondale “that we had to pass all the time.”

Tank may be one of a kennel-full, (they also own eight cats) but “we love him like he was our only one,” insists Selders, and neither will rest until “our problem child” is safely home again.

Like Windy the Tumor Dog (a stray that eluded Naperville and Aurora officials for six months until finally getting caught a year ago), Tank is in survival mode, running from the people trying to help him, including the Yorkville Fire Department and even his own masters.

Last Sunday, she said, her boyfriend got within 20 feet of the dog but Tank ran back into the woods. “I know we shouldn’t take it personally, but that really hurt,” she said.

They couple also has been able to take dozens of pictures of Tank with a camera set on the trap they are hoping will eventually ensnare him. So far, despite lots of excellent suggestions from their legions of supporters on Facebook, Tank has been craftier — figuring out ways to get into the trap, remove the food, then leave again.

One day last week, he even took the dish with him, she added, then brought it back the following day.

Selders is convinced they will get Tank back again, especially as the Facebook army continues to throw out ideas and encouragement. “It’s just a matter of time — and patience ... lots of patience.”

The upside to this frustrating month-long hunt has been the many friends they’ve accumulated — some of whom they’ve actually met and gotten to know in person.

“I knew how passionate we are about our animals,” she said. “But this has shown me just how many others are as crazy as we are.”

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