STAFFORD TOWNSHIP – After two agonizing weeks filled with police searches, statewide news coverage and thousands of social media posts from concerned residents, Jax, the dog from Southern Ocean County, has finally been rescued and is home with his owners.
The ordeal began back on Monday, June 24th with a serious car crash near the Manahawkin Bay Bridge. 23-year old Gabrielle McMillan was traveling east on Route 72 when she lost control of her Nissan Sentra. The car left the roadway and rolled after striking a utility pole. In the vehicle at the time of the crash was the Boxer/Rottweiler mix, Jax, who she shares with her boyfriend Stevie Sheldon, Jr.
Immediately following the accident, Jax panicked and ran off. EMS treated McMillan at the scene before sending her to a trauma center in Atlantic City. Thankfully, she sustained non-life threatening injuries and had her seat belt on. Jax, however, was nowhere to be found.
Stafford Township Police began searching for Jax. They were able to locate him a few days later near Cedar Bonnet Island Trail. Animal control set up a bait station with food and water for him. Because of the shock and trauma of what happened, rescue crews couldn’t just go in to get him. He was scared but according to Stafford Police Lieutenant James Vaughn, he had been eating, drinking water and even slept on his owners clothes that were set. The public was also asked to stay away from the area as a precaution to avoid any potential setbacks.
Then on July 1st, Stafford Police announced that they were no longer involved in the rescue but an independent organization would be handling it going forward.
On Monday, July 8th, there was happy news to report, according to Danielle Sands, the sister of Stevie Sheldon, Jr., the dog’s co-owner.
Sands told Jersey Shore Online that around 11:30 p.m., her brother and his girlfriend, who is now home recovering from the accident, got the call that Jax was captured.
Sands said “the night before, Jax was seen on camera poking his head into the enclosure trap that was set up for him. Then, Monday night, he finally went into it and the door closed behind him. Jax was finally decompressed and relaxed enough to be caught!”
Sands added that her brother and his girlfriend can breathe again. “Gabbie had been home resting after the accident but now she can finally rest even more with Jax home. They are so happy to have their baby back. It was the worst feeling in the world, knowing he was out there,” Sands explained.
So how is Jax doing? Sands said that he was covered in ticks and his chest was red so they will be taking him to the vet on Tuesday for a full checkup. He was very happy to see his owners.
“He’s doing great. Vet checked out good he’s on antibiotics and flea meds and a dewormer,” Sheldon Jr. told Jersey Shore Online via email Tuesday afternoon.
Jax’s family wants to thank Stafford Township Police, Animal Control and volunteers from Mama’s-gona Rescue for the time, dedicated resources and assistance they all provided during the search and rescue. Sands also wanted to thank the public. She said “there was an overwhelming amount of people wanting to help both on social media and with the search. My family and I appreciate each and every one of you.”
Sands has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Jax and his owners. She said “Gabbie is going to be out of work for at least two weeks due to her injuries and my brother Stevie missed work when hunting for Jax. I want to try and raise money to offset expenses they may incur including vet bills.”
-Kimberly Bosco & Jennifer Peacock contributed to this report