A 3-legged rescue dog with a traumatic past took a 246-day jaunt through Iowa City, outsmarting live traps and defending food bowls from marauding racoons before dedicated rescuers ultimately retrieved him and helped him home.

Kinnick, a lab named after the University of Iowa’s football stadium, reportedly was on a walk with his adopter when something spooked him. He yanked the leash out of his adopter’s hands and took off.

Then the sightings started. Caring members of the Iowa City community reported seeing the dog visiting food bowls left out for other animals. Camera footage also provided snapshots of Kinnick’s wanderings. 

In one black and white shot, he looks inquisitively into a wire cage lined with food bowls. In another, his eyes are locked with a raccoon’s — a contested bowl of food between them.


Kinnick And A Raccoon (Courtesy of Paws of Hope)

Paws of Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to the rescue of lost and dumped animals that’s based in Mechanicsville, Iowa, said snowfall in the area helped them start tracking Kinnick’s characteristic 3-legged pawprints. They used those tracks, camera footage, and community sightings to pinpoint the areas where Kinnick visited most frequently and set up food stations.

Volunteers even tracked Kinnick’s footprints in the snow on Christmas day, hoping to locate him and to give his adopter a much anticipated reunion.

“No such luck, but it was worth a shot,” the group wrote on Facebook. “Things don’t always happen as they should, but they WILL happen when you stick with it and not give up.”


Tracking Kinnick (Courtesy of Paws of Hope)

The group reported that the street smart Kinnick avoided the live traps they set for him, instead learning routes around the city where he could get a free meal and never staying in one spot for too long.

But finally, the group rescued Kinnick and returned him to guardian Anabelle Lewis, who said she was overjoyed to have him home.

“So incredibly thankful for the whole team and everything you’ve done for me and Kinnick,” Lewis wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “It’s good to have him home.”

Community members also shared their gratitude for the canine’s rescue — as well as their memories of trying to help the dog themselves.

“I’ve actually been carrying treats in my car in case I saw him,” one shared via Facebook. 

Another wrote about spotting Kinnick along the side of a road but relayed that he ran away when approached.

Paws of Hope wrote in their Facebook post that they believe Kinnick was used as a “bait” dog in Alabama — one used to to “train” other dogs for dog fights.  After his first rescue, he then went to Missouri. Lewis, who is originally from Missouri, currently is attending the University of Iowa, which explains how Kinnick ended up in Iowa, Paws of Hope wrote.

While Kinnick loves Lewis and his new home, Paws of Hope wrote that his likely past has traumatized him and made it difficult for him to to trust people and animals he doesn’t know.

Kinnick has zero trust in any other animals because he sees them as a threat for what they have done to him,” the group wrote on Facebook. “Kinnick is also fearful of other people, because humans purposely put him into harm’s way.  So when people ask, ‘Why won’t Kinnick just let someone help?  Why does he continue to run?’  That is why.  And we don’t blame him.”

The group told Lady Freethinker that Kinnick has been doing great since his return home. His veterinarian cleared him, and his forever home loves and adores him, the group said.

“They are so happy to have him back home,” Paws of Hope told LFT. “They never gave up hope.”


Kinnick In His Forever Home (Courtesy of Paws of Hope)

We are so grateful to Paws of Hope for not giving up the search for this sweet boy and so happy that Kinnick now is safe at home!

His story is an excellent reminder that rescued dogs need caring adopters who are willing to help them heal — and also that they make great companions! Please make sure to always adopt your new companion animals, and ensure that they are microchipped and have identifying information on tags or collars should they ever go missing to help them get home! 

To learn more about Paws of Hope, you can visit their Facebook page here.