Missing Sandusky dog found in Florida

A Sandusky dog lost since July 30 in Florida has been found alive and well, living in a shelter under a new name.
Tom Jackson
Sep 21, 2013


Plato, lost during a family trip, was confirmed safe Wednesday. He will reunite soon with his Sandusky “dad,” Perkins math teacher Jeremy Hiser, and “mom,” Jamie Hiser, a Firelands Regional Medical Center radiology technician. The Hisers have two daughters, Kamryn, 16, and Kaylee, 12, and a son, Kaden, 10.

To say the family was happy when they learned Plato was alive and well, after being missing for weeks, would be quite an understatement.

“My son started to cry, he was so happy,” Jamie said.

The Hisers took Plato with them on a family trip to Clermont, Fla., where they stayed with relatives. Someone left the gate open in the yard, and Plato apparently wandered off July 30 to explore Florida. The family searched for hours, but left on July 31 to return home.

Jamie repeatedly phoned and emailed animal shelters in Florida, looking for a 10-year-old Jack Russell mix. Nobody claimed to know anything, but Jamie tried again and again in the intervening weeks.

A few days ago, Jamie’s email reached Denise Ridgeon, founder of Lifeline Dog Rescue in Davenport, Fla. Ridgeon requested a photo of Plato and mounted a determined effort to help find the missing dog.

“I answer every email that comes through,” said Ridgeon, a native of England who still retains her English accent. “There’s nothing worse than losing your own dog. I probably knew where to look, where it probably would have been taken.”

Ridgeon found a dog with Plato’s distinct markings through Petfinder.com  , tracking him to a shelter in nearby Tavares, in Lake County.

That gave Plato a brush with death, because dogs held for weeks at the shelter often are euthanized. But when Ridgeon phoned the shelter, she learned Plato had been taken to Edgewater Animal Shelter in Edgewater, Fla.

As Jamie listened in, an Edgewater shelter worker told Ridgeon the dog, now named “Dexter” would be adopted out if anyone wanted him, even though his original owner had been found.

Facebook users — organized by Shelly Thomas, a friend of Jamie — flooded the shelter with messages. Shelter workers relented, agreeing to hold “Dexter” for 24 hours and release him to Ridgeon if she paid $125. Jamie sent the ransom money to Ridgeon by Paypal, and Ridgeon’s husband picked him up. Plato got a bath and a meal from the Ridgeons, and he’ll be their guest until the Hisers can return to Florida.

Edgewater Animal Shelter manager Beverly Cowling defended her shelter, saying that Plato is still alive because of the shelter’s efforts.

“We rescued eight animals who were about to be euthanized. Dexter was one of them,” Cowling said.

Cowling reduced the fee to $100 but said that’s fair because Dexter needed medical care, including treatment for an ear infection.

Although Jamie and Ridgeon both said they heard the Edgewater employee say Dexter would go out of the door immediately if anyone wanted him, Cowling said that’s not her policy. “I can’t believe anybody at the shelter would have said that,” she said.

Jamie said Plato will come home as soon as the family can figure out when they can drive out.

She said she’s grateful to Ridgeon.

“Denise is amazing,” Jamie said.



I'm confused here. It seems he always has his dog tags on in all the pictures except when getting a bath. Why did someone not call you once they found the dog?


Look at the photos, different collar, the shelter collars does not have tags on. Another reason to microchip your dog.


Ah good point


"ransom money", Typical Register slant, human societies, rescues receive no public funding, they support themselves on contributions and fund raisers. The dog needed medical care, not to mention the food, etc., knowing the price of a trip to my own vet, $125 a small price to reimburse the shelter for my dog's care.


They could have approached the topic of money in a better manner than making it feel like it was ransom. I'm sure any loving owner would be happy to pay the price, but for the shelter worker to say that if someone were to walk in and want him then he goes to the first person. I would think that a shelter would be happy to reunite the family because happy endings are what rescues and shelters (no kill ones) are out to achieve. I know that if I were in the position of the owner, I would have gladly donated money if none was asked for because I would have appreciated the fact that someone saved my baby and took care of him, but they led this family to believe that at any minute whether he was their pet or not ... He could be gone! That is what was wrong with this scenario!


awww. leash. owner error. awww.


It's nice to see a happy ending, but I'd have to agree with Sam. That fee isn't "ransom" money. It covers the funds the shelter had to put out to keep the dog healthy and fed. I don't blame the family for the choice of words; that's all on the reporter who may have thought he was being cute but wasn't.

Mr. Jackson, you do all of the stories on the dogs and cats available locally. As a result, you've GOT to know how cash-strapped many shelters are, and how hard they have to work to save whatever lives they can. Why don't you apologize for implying covering the shelter fees was a "ransom," and maybe send them a few bucks while you're at it?


This was not ransom money. these people saved this dog from death, gave it medical care, and fed and housed it. Rescue shelters run on contributions. It seems to me this family should be sending this shelter a large contribution for saving their dog.
By the way, a well fitting collar with a tag on it with the owners name and phone number would have prevented this. These tags are available at Pet Supplies Plus for about $5.00.
I am happy the owners for their dog back. Please buy a dog tag.


Unfortunately collars come off for whatever reason and only Plato can tell us why and that isn't likely to happen. Somebody always has to point out something they don't like about what the Register prints. Can we just be glad that the dog was still alive and will be seeing his family again soon!


Exactly ... A happy ending! I can't even imagine how they must have been feeling with not knowing. I would be so sad without my dogs. I also have my dogs microchipped.

Stop It

Kewl story. :)


Nice story, happy ending. Nothing to pi-s and moan about here, move on.


I think the pic of the girl and the dog are too cute!

Tool Box



What is being a perve about that?


Email's too slow sometimes. Phone is way faster.

Glad the pooch is claimed.


If the dog was microchipped,they probably would have gotten the dog back as soon as it was taken to the county shelter. A microchip is not that expensive. I had the only dog I own that was not chipped, chipped a couple of years ago at a low cost microchipping clinic at an event I attended. The rest of my dogs are rescue dogs and the chip info can be traced to the rescue. I think the $125 was not the whole cost for the nmedical care and food and boarding the dog received.