Roger Steele reunites with Bella following a days-long search that ended on Sept.1. SHYLON MARTIN/Contributed

A 1-1/2-year old Australian cattle dog has reunited with family after escaping from a Key Largo hotel room and remaining on the run for days. 

The Steele family came to the Keys from their home in West Palm Beach to spend a weekend with their two children, when Bella broke loose from their hotel room on Aug. 28. A search ensued for the dog as community members joined in. Posts and flyers went out. Days passed and Bella was still out on the run. 

On the morning of Sept. 1, Christina Steele, Bella’s fur mom, received information on Facebook that Bella was spotted a few hours earlier, in the mangroves inside a gated Key Largo community, Ocean Cay, where construction was taking place. That’s when Shylon Martin, local Realtor and member of the Upper Keys Humane Society, stepped in and unlocked the gate. Martin had been assisting in the search since Bella escaped. 

“We had been searching since Saturday twice a day,” Martin said. “We take care of a lot of properties at Ocean Cay, and we’ve been watching. I said, ‘If I were a dog that’s where I’d run to.’”

Sure enough, Bella was deep in the mangroves inside the gated community. The family was contacted and reunited with their pup. Roger Steele, Bella’s owner, said they’re relieved Bella was found safe. Initial reports said she was hit while crossing the road. No serious injuries were apparent when found, however. 

“We’re so relieved,” he said. 

Martin said they went as far as contacting Jamie Katz, a K9 handler and private investigator, to bring her tracking dogs to locate Bella before she was found. 

“We don’t give up.  That’s one thing,” she said. “Sometimes it takes seven days to two weeks to capture a dog when they’re scared.”

Roger said he’s appreciative of the people of Key Largo who helped in the search.

“Everybody was coming and helping in the search,” he said. “We had people out screaming her name, and it was nobody I knew. We were truly blown away by the support.”

With Bella found, the family concluded their trip and prepared to head back home.

On the morning of Sept. 1, Christina Steele, Bella’s fur mom, received information on Facebook that Bella was spotted a few hours earlier, in the mangroves inside a gated Key Largo community, Ocean Cay, where construction was taking place. That’s when Shylon Martin, local Realtor and member of the Upper Keys Humane Society, stepped in and unlocked the gate. Martin had been assisting in the search since Bella escaped. 

“We had been searching since Saturday twice a day,” Martin said. “We take care of a lot of properties at Ocean Cay, and we’ve been watching. I said, ‘If I were a dog that’s where I’d run to.’”

Sure enough, Bella was deep in the mangroves inside the gated community. The family was contacted and reunited with their pup. Roger Steele, Bella’s owner, said they’re relieved Bella was found safe. Initial reports said she was hit while crossing the road. No serious injuries were apparent when found, however. 

“We’re so relieved,” he said. 

Martin said they went as far as contacting Jamie Katz, a K9 handler and private investigator, to bring her tracking dogs to locate Bella before she was found. 

“We don’t give up.  That’s one thing,” she said. “Sometimes it takes seven days to two weeks to capture a dog when they’re scared.”

Roger said he’s appreciative of the people of Key Largo who helped in the search.

“Everybody was coming and helping in the search,” he said. “We had people out screaming her name, and it was nobody I knew. We were truly blown away by the support.”

With Bella found, the family concluded their trip and prepared to head back home.

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