Thanks to an anonymous tip, Michael Snedegar was reunited with his best friend Thursday afternoon after she'd been missing for almost a week.
Phoenix, a 21-month-old Walker coonhound, and two other coonhounds were stolen from the Curtis Gates Lloyd Wildlife Preserve in Crittenden while their owners were inside the sportsmen's club preparing for the Kentucky Coon Hunt.
Snedegar, of Sharpsburg, offered a $500 reward for Phoenix's return or a tip that would lead to her return, but he said the man who called him wouldn't give his name — he said he just wanted to help out.
That Good Samaritan wasn't the only one willing to assist. Snedegar estimated he'd received 200 calls from people wanting pictures of Phoenix in order to make fliers and asking what they could do to lend a hand.
"It seems like everyone in the state knew about these dogs," Snedegar said. "I'd walk into stores or work, and people would ask me about them."
Because Snedegar was at work when he received the call, he sent his father, John, a former coon hunter, to Knox County to retrieve them.
"It was very dangerous where he went to go get these dogs," Michael Snedegar said. "I wasn't with him ... but he said he had to go up a real long holler, and there wasn't a house within miles. But he found them — they were just tied up in the woods."
Snedegar said Phoenix and the other two dogs, an English coonhound named Rambo and a Redbone coonhound named Rooster, had been tied to a tree and appeared to have gone for days without food or water.
"They had lost some weight, and they were very hungry and very thirsty, but you could tell they were happy to see us," he said.
"My dad is a real hero. He took a big chance going down there to get those dogs. He told me he was going down there to get those dogs, and he wasn't coming back without them."
When his father returned, Snedegar called the owners of the other two coonhounds, whom he now calls his friends, and they both came to the Winchester Wal-mart to pick up the dogs.
Phoenix is a pedigreed coonhound and an AKC show champion, Snedegar has said, and he estimated she was worth at least $5,000.
Snedegar said he thought the dogs would all be fine, and he's going to give Phoenix a few days off from training for her next coon-hunting trip:
"She'll be ready to do it again soon, though. She loves to hunt. It's just her nature."