'We need the public to back off': Animal control says well-intentioned people are making it difficult to catch stray dog

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WTKR/CNN) - Authorities want the public to help them catch a runaway dog that has eluded them for months. They say well-meaning people are making the job more difficult.

Animal control officers in Virginia Beach says well-meaning passersby are making it harder to catch a stray dog. (Source: WTKR, VB Animal Control, Facebook via CNN)

It's hard to imagine a dog sitting patiently on the side of an incredibly busy intersection.

"She is very street smart. She is car savvy, so she stays right at edge of road,” said Meghan Conti with Virginia Beach Animal Control.

Video shows the female hound dog appearing approachable, but then running away when people get too close.

"We have tried treats and that just is not effective,” Conti said.

Lucy, the elusive hound, has been keeping Virginia Beach Animal Control officers on their toes for more than six months.

She was only with her new family for a couple of days after her adoption, and then she escaped.

"We moved to the steps of putting a humane trap out. That trap, any trap set for a dog, is baited with food,” Conti said.

Animal control says during the past six months, the dog did go into one of the traps, but then she either escaped or was let out, which just adds more of a challenge.

Well-intentioned passersby are causing more problems by throwing Lucy food and treats.

"We really need the public to back off a little bit and allow us to do our job,” Conti said.

Animal control has motion detector cameras set up and is working in tandem with Gina Highfield, who runs a lost and found pet group on Facebook.

"Just knowing that she is out there every night - my dogs are inside being spoiled, sleeping on a couch. She is out in the woods in freezing cold,” Highfield said.

Highfield helped put out a new “Missy Trap,” a trap designed specifically for skittish dogs who wouldn’t normally go into a smaller sized trap.

Lucy supporters posted large signs, pleading for the public to stay off the private property where the dog is sheltering.

"This is our job. We are trained in how to do this,” Conti said. “We have done this for years, and so we need the public to trust we are doing everything possible and to allow us time and patience that we need."

The ultimate goal is to bring Lucy to safety and find her a forever home.

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