Update: Happy Ending to Mysterious Disappearance of Phineas the Dog

PetMD Editorial
Updated: January 30, 2018
Published: November 04, 2013
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Phineas, a golden retriever that was declared dangerous and sentenced to death by a small town mayor, and then later disappeared from a veterinarian’s office where he was being held awaiting his appeal hearing, has been found safe and sound.

As Pet360 reported two weeks ago, Phineas disappeared between a Friday night and Saturday morning in early October from the Dent County Veterinary Clinic in Salem, MO where he was being held awaiting a final appeal hearing by an appellate court the following week.

Phineas’s human parents, Patrick and Amber Sanders, appealed his death sentence by the mayor, who said Phineas was a “dangerous dog” after the canine clamped down on a neighbor girl’s side and tried to drag her off of his human sister when the little girl fell on top of the child.  

The Save Phineas Facebook page was created and The Lexus Project Legal Defense for Dogs became involved.

As small town battles go, townspeople took sides for or against Phineas and his family. The family even received death threats for Phineas. After disappearing once from an animal control center since his incarceration in July 2012, Phineas was moved to what was thought to be the more secure veterinary clinic.

When news hit of Phineas’s second disappearance, Joe Simon, the attorney hired to represent the Sanders family, offered a $25,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of whoever stole the dog. Simon added to the drama by telling reporters, “I would say there’s a 95 percent chance the dog is dead.”

The scheduled hearing on October 17 took place without Phineas, but the presiding judge exonerated Phineas, saying that the whole drama should never have happened and gave the order not to kill Phineas. After the trial a man showed up with fake facial hair at the Sanders' home to let the family know that Phineas was unharmed and living happily in a “safe house.”

“My heart,” Patrick Sanders told The New York Times , “was just a chugga-lugga-lugging.”  

In a move right out of a spy novel, the mysterious man asked Sanders to set up a landline, as he said it was safer than a cell phone, and told him to post to the Phineas Facebook page “I saw a dog today that reminded me of Phineas” when the phone line was set up, which would be his signal to call.

A meeting was set up for the Saturday morning following the hearing. Still afraid that someone in town might try to hurt Phineas, arrangements were made to get Phineas out of town after the drop off.  

On a dirt road in the middle of Missouri, the man with the fake beard and mustache left Phineas with another unidentified person he knew would get the dog back to his family.

Soon afterwards, Phineas was reunited with the Sanders family, hopefully, to live his full life out of the spotlight.

“Happy Tails” to Phineas and his family and to all who helped save his life!

Editor’s Note: Photo of Phineas back with his family from the Save Phineas Facebook page.