Annette Poitras, a dog walker, is well-known in her neighborhood. Annet was out walking three dogs in the Canadian woods on a typical November day when the weather turned rough, and things took a turn for the worse.
Her husband Marcel was concerned when she didn’t return home, so he called the police, which resulted in a search and rescue attempt to locate the dog walker and the dogs.
Rescuers stumbled upon something they had never seen before when they finally found the group three days later.
A Day in the Life
Annette Poitras, 56, earned a reputation in her neighborhood for her passion for dog walking, which she turned into a vocation. She was familiar with the neighboring hiking trails, particularly those around Coquitlam’s Eagle Mountain, and she would walk her dogs there daily.
Monday, November 20th, began like any other day, with Annette heading out to Eagle Mountain with her three dogs, but everything was about to change.
Leaving the House
She went for a walk with three dogs: hers, a Collie named Chloe, and two of her clients’ dogs, a Puggle named Bubba and a Boxer named Roxy, as she did almost every other day. Annette said her goodbyes to her husband Marcel before walking out the door.
The dog walker only intended to be gone for about an hour, and she didn’t tell her husband where she would be going, as she always did. When she didn’t return home after a long time, her husband was concerned.
What is it that is taking her so long?
Time seemed to be moving slowly for Marcel, and it was getting dark. But Annette is yet to
return home, and he was getting very concerned. He couldn’t stop wondering where she was and why she was so long.
Then the weather turned bad, a typhoon known as Pineapple Express blew in, dumping tremendous amounts of rain.
His wife was still out there, and the weather was dark and stormy—no one could be safe in those conditions. What had happened to Annette that she hadn’t returned home?
So, when she hadn’t returned home by the evening, Marcel went to the area where she usually walked and discovered something that could lead him to her location: her van. The van, however, was empty, and Annette was nowhere in sight.
Marcel contacted the authorities after not hearing from his wife. He informed them that Annette had not returned home after her stroll earlier that day.
Rescue and Search
The Royal Mounted Police Search and Rescue Team devised a plan. Marcel did his best to assist in the search, telling them about the places she visited, but there was only so much he could do—the wilderness was vast, and there was no way to narrow down the search.
They were on the lookout for anything, including a cellphone, clothing, and dog leashes. However, they came up empty-handed. The storm was intensifying. Annette was yet to communicate. The dog walker, as well as the dogs, did not appear to be in excellent shape.
Sweep of Sound
SAR established a command center on Westwood Plateau after getting a call from the worried husband. They were ready to begin the search, and they needed to move fast because the region surrounding the plateau was densely forested, and it was getting dark outside.
As a result, SAR began their search with a “sound sweep.” They used whistles to produce noise in the hopes of attracting the attention of the dog walker or the dogs. They also deployed Royal Canadian Mounted Police search dogs.
However, after the first night, they were left empty-handed. Annette and the pets were nowhere to be seen. And there was no time to waste.
Keeping the Search Going
On day two, the SAR crew continued their search in the daylight. However, they would want additional people since the storm had worsened, making it difficult to hear the whistles.
Over a hundred rescuers were involved. It was time to ramp up the search using helicopters.
The search and rescue team was weary, and the inclement weather didn’t help matters. Annette had been missing for 24 hours and there had been no news from her.
But they weren’t going down without a fight. It was up to them to save Annette’s life.
Increasing Manpower SAR combed Eagle Mountain for every known and newly discovered trail. They had over 100 volunteers and helicopters on the ground and were now directing their efforts in the air and on the ground.
While search and rescues searched the area on foot for Annette, an Air One police helicopter used a thermal imaging camera to scan the area from the air, hoping to detect warmth from Annette or the dogs.
Land and Sky
However, the Air One police chopper returned empty-handed. The tree cover was too dense, and the storm wasn’t going to let up anytime soon, so the helicopters couldn’t pick up anything.
They couldn’t find any heat sources from Annette.
The odds were against us, and the situation was only getting worse as time went on.
Even though this was a setback, the search, and rescue crew was not about to quit. They weren’t going to stop looking for the dog walker and the three dogs until they found them alive or dead.
Closed for the day
Rescue workers had no choice but to delay the search until the next morning. As the second day drew to a close and the sky darkened. The weather was getting more dangerous, and the terrain was rough, putting the search and rescue team in jeopardy.
It was tough not to give up hope when the conditions were too bad to continue the search. What would Annette’s condition be if she was found? It was bitterly cold, and the rain wasn’t going to let up any time soon.
However, they were about to receive information that would drastically alter the rescue mission.
A Helpful Man
Annette had been absent for two days, and the dog walker’s situation was dismal. But then I got helpful advice that helped me narrow down my search.
On a Monday afternoon, while traveling through the mountains, a man named Marc Herr pulled over for a cigarette and happened to see Annette!
He didn’t think much of it at the moment; after all, she was simply a dog walker strolling her dogs, and nothing seemed unusual. So, what went wrong?
He learned of Annette’s disappearance while watching the news the next day, and he recognized her. She wasn’t just a woman out walking her dogs; she’d gone missing and was in danger.
He told CTV Vancouver, “I saw it on the news and [thought] oh my god, I’d seen her and the dogs.”
As a result, He contacted authorities right away. This man helped them limit the search region, but it was still a huge one with dangerous conditions.
Simplifying the Search
However, that wasn’t the only piece of information the rescuers had. Annette’s husband told authorities that his wife carried a cellphone with her at all times when she went missing.
The Royal Mounted Police traced her cellphone and discovered that it
leads to a cell tower on Burke Hill, which helped investigators narrow their search.
There was still a lot of ground to cover, but they had a notion of where Annette and the dogs might be based on these hints.
Things were finally beginning to improve.
There are 300 rescuers on the scene
Annette had been missing for three days at this point, and on the third day, they added another helicopter and two more SAR dogs to the search. Over 300 search and rescue workers were involved in the operation to find Annette and her dogs.
Around 100 people were participating in the operation on Wednesday, and they were about to get a significant break.
They decided to venture out a few extra miles during one of the sound sweeps, and that’s when they got a signal. Was that Annette?
Screams for help
During a sound sweep at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the SAR crew heard a response. They heard shouts for aid and loud barking in the distance.
“We heard a big yell right away,” volunteer Aidon Pyne told CTV Vancouver. “It changed from just working hard with my nose down to cheering and going over to help people.”
They had no idea what to expect now that they had made contact with the dog walker because they were unaware of her condition. None of this has prepared them for what was going to unfold in front of them.
A Wrong Step
Now that we’ve discussed Marcel and the SAR team, let’s return to Monday when Annette went for her dog walk. What could have gone wrong, exactly?
The storm started while Annette was walking Chloe, Roxy, and Bubba, and she ended up stumbling on a log.
It wasn’t just any slip, though—she couldn’t get up. The dog walker had slammed her head and landed so hard that she was knocked out. We can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been!
She had no clue how long she was out when she awoke, and she couldn’t find her phone or gloves. She had slept all night and it was no longer dark outside. Annette was disoriented and had trouble moving, but the first thing she did when she awoke was checked on all of her pets.
That’s when she realized one of the dogs, as well as her phone, was vanished.
She didn’t know what time it was or how long she’d been out. But she knew she couldn’t leave until the lost dog was recovered.
Dog Goes Missing
Annette went in search of the dog, but she was hurt and unable to move after the fall. She eventually discovered the dog, but the weather had reached a point that she couldn’t continue.
Annette was hungry and exhausted, and she didn’t have the stamina to keep running. Worse, she hadn’t brought any supplies with her because she assumed this would be a routine dog walk. She didn’t expect to be gone for more than an hour.
While the dog walker was cold from the rain, the dogs were also in distress, and the four of them needed to look after each other to survive.
Aid is on the way
But we have to question if Annette heard the search and rescue team calling her name or saw the helicopters in the sky during her three days in Eagle Mountain.
On Monday night, her first night in the forest and the commencement of the search, she saw the helicopters flying above her and waved her jacket in the air, hoping to attract their attention.
The rescuers were not able to spot her due to the dense bushes and trees. The helicopters were unable to detect any body heat.
Annette didn’t hear her name called out in the distance until the third day, when Roxy began barking, alerting the rescuers to their location.
It couldn’t have come at a better moment for the dog walker, who didn’t think she’d be able to make it through another night in the Canadian wilderness. She was exhausted.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to make it if I had to stay another night.” Annette told Tri-City News, “I truly didn’t.”
The search and rescue crew was finally able to narrow down the search once Annette reacted and the dogs began barking. They discovered her in a swampy basin, far north of where she had been reported missing on Monday afternoon, which was off-limits to hikers and dog walkers.
When the rescuers finally located her, they couldn’t believe their eyes when they spotted the dog walker and his dogs laying in a pit.
One of the dogs had given Annette a survival tip.
Marcel told Global News, “She occurred to see one of the dogs was excavating a trench to sleep in.” “[The undergrowth] is spongy and absorbs a lot of water.” So she began brushing away all the brush and debris to get down into the dirt and create a small well for herself to sleep in.
What a brilliant idea! It’s most likely how she managed to stay alive in the extreme cold and rain for three days and two nights.
Working in a Group
Annette and the three dogs did everything they could to keep each other safe during their three days in Eagle Mountain—they looked after each other. Annette even offered Roxie, a Boxer, her coat to keep her warm.
“The short-haired boxer, [Roxy], was cold at one point last night—when it was raining [Annette] took off one of her rain jackets to place over the boxer.” “It’s to keep it warm,” Marcel told Global News.
Taking Care of Each Other
While Annette was caring for the dogs, they were also assisting her in staying safe. The dogs stayed by her side the entire time, making sure she was safe.
Marcel told Global News, “One of them was snuggling [her], one of them was on watch, and the other one was seeking food.”
While Annette and the three dogs managed to survive till now, it was time for the rescuers to step in and rescue Annette and the dogs.
Annette was conscious and talking when the rescuers found her, but she had slipped and had minor injuries that prohibited her from continuing her walk with the dogs.
But they’d have to wait a little longer to get her out of there safely. They had to wait for helicopters to arrive and rescue her. Meanwhile, the SAR team provided her with dry clothing and provided first assistance.
The operation to Save Lives
Teams prepared for a helicopter rescue to retrieve her and deliver her to safety around midday.
Well-wishers and members of the media gathered to observe the rescue. Annette’s husband Marcel, and brothers Gerry and Andre, arrived to witness the life-saving procedure.
As the chopper lifted off, heavy winds and rain blew in, but Annette reappeared 20 minutes later, hanging from the cable below before being taken to the hospital by ambulance.
What about the dogs, though?
Roxy, Bubba, and Chloe
After Annette had been rescued, there was only one thing left to do: rescue the three dogs who had assisted in her survival!
Two more helicopter trips were required to remove the dogs. Bubba the Puggle was the first to be saved, followed by Chloe the Border Collie and Roxy the boxer.
Annette and the dogs escaped with only minor injuries. The fact that they were all in such fantastic form after being missing for three days was nothing short of a miracle.
The dogs were reunited with their frightened owners, who were grateful beyond words for Annette’s efforts to keep them safe.
Janet Kilberg, one of the dog owners, told CTV Vancouver, “I truly appreciate everything that’s been done and all the efforts.” “Annette is a wonderful friend of mine, and I wish her well. I hope she is able to resume walking soon because all the dogs adore her.”
Tina Presley, Bubba’s dog owner, told the news organization that Annette is “a dog whisperer,” and that “you see the love in her eyes.”
Local Celeb Annette
Annette isn’t ready to repeat the frightening events of that night, but her story reached the news and went viral. Annette has since become a local celebrity in her hometown. “The dog walker” is how she is known.
The dog walker can no longer take her dogs for walks on the trails or run errands without being stopped.
Annette told The Tri-City News, “People come up to me and want to hug me.” Isn’t that lovely?
Finally, A happy ending!!
Annette Poitras, a dog walker, went on a walk with three dogs on a seemingly regular Monday in November, but things rapidly turned sour when she didn’t return home.
The Search and Rescue team put in numerous hours and effort over three days to bring this terrible, grim situation to a happy conclusion. This is a miracle in the making, and it could happen to anyone.
If there’s anything you can take away from this, it’s to always notify someone where you’re going and to always be equipped when going on a hike.