Lani, a Shih-Tzu/Bichon mix, should have been en route to her new home on November 9, 2021. Unfortunately, the dog went missing when transporter Tierney Hopkins stopped at Marlborough Saleyards, south of Blenheim, New Zealand.
It took 18 days to find Lani, and that time was torture for her mom. After all, once you know your dog is on a transport headed your way, you don’t expect them to suddenly disappear.
A Facebook group “Bring Home Lani” posted updates about the missing dog’s sightings and asked for help locating her. A post to the page indicates that Hopkins, owner of Hopkins Horse Transport Ltd., recognized that he should have tried to look for Lani before leaving her:
“Tierney has also acknowledged that although in hindsight it was a bad decision, he had to leave Lani behind as he had other animals on board and that he didn’t let me know until 25 hours later as he had his friend looking for Lani and was hoping to call me with the good news that his friend had found her.”
First Lani, Then Bess
Just a few weeks after Lani’s disappearance, Hopkins Horse Transport Ltd. was bringing a retired working dog named Bess from a farm to her new home. As Vanessa Knutson eagerly awaited the arrival of her new dog, she called Hopkins for an update.
“He was like; ‘Oh yeah, I was going to give you a call about Bess … she’s gone missing.’”
Weirdly, Bess disappeared at the exact same stop where Lani did. Hopkins told Knutson that he had to catch a ferry, so he continued his journey without Bess. Knutson was shocked that he just abandoned the search for her.
Malborough Four Paws, the rescue organization that helped look for Lani, organized a search party for Bess. Incredibly just several hours later, a local spotted Bess a few kilometers away from the cattleyard where she disappeared. With the help of Bess’ former owner, they were able to get the scared dog and hold on to her until a different transport arrived.
A relieved, grateful Knutson said:
“I can’t believe how kind strangers have been, taking time out to look for a dog.”
A Repeat Incident Is Concerning
Parents of both dogs, though lucky to have them safely home, are still upset that this could happen multiple times. A recent post on the “Bring Home Lani” Facebook page calls for Hopkins Horse Transport Ltd. to be shut down:
“Lani’s 18 days were all in vain as he clearly hasn’t learnt a single thing from it all … His business needs shutting down. Luckily Bess was found but how many innocent animals need to be lost, hurt, injured or even killed before he will be stopped?”
The page for the business has many positive reviews, but some pointed out how many of these reviews were only posted in the last few days, which is odd.
Hopkins reportedly donated $1,000 towards Lani’s medical bills, and his owner expects him to contribute more. The little dog has had multiple surgeries since she was found. She had to have several grass seeds removed from her skin.
On the bright side, both Lani and Bess are doing okay and in their rightful homes now.