A tragic end to a 17-day search effort for critically ill dog

Search and rescue efforts to find a critically ill three-year-old Great Dane named Shirley came to a close on Saturday after her remains were found on the train tracks of SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West line.

Shirley went missing on Aug. 29, although she had been spotted several times in and around Wissahickon Valley Park.

The rush to find Shirley was heightened because she required daily medication and a monthly injection to control her Addison’s Disease, which affects the adrenal glands.

Shirley’s owners, Alissa Gravelle and her husband, Mike, are grateful to the local veterinary student, Eric Deeble, who found Shirley and brought her home to them.

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“While many had looked the other way, he took it upon himself to investigate and found our Shirley so we could bring her home one last time,” said the Gravelles in an email statement to NewsWorks.

The email explained that because no one picked up the dog or reported it for a over week, Shirley’s body was left to decompose. The lengthy time span prevented the Gravelle’s to do with Shirley’s remains what they had planned – to get a keepsake paw print impression and to donate her skeleton to a local veterinary school.

“It has been devastating to bear considering she was discovered so close to home and knowing that we had scoured those areas so thoroughly,” said the Gravelles in their statement.

Volunteers from all over the Philadelphia area searched over the last three weeks to find Shirley, some even taking shifts at “observation stations” at the park to watch for a sighting of the dog.

As of today, the rescue effort’s Facebook page is still growing, now close to 900 ‘likes,’ and features memories of the Gravelles and their beloved Shirley.

In their statement, the Gravelles expressed their gratefulness to those volunteers:

“We’ve been amazed and humbled by all the wonderful people of Philadelphia and the mid-Atlantic region who helped us through our search, and the many sympathizers who followed our story. We never imagined Shirley would touch so many lives.  Though as short as her special life was, Shirley surely taught us unforgettable lessons… she is missed dearly.”

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