Survival Survival Skills

Trapper Reunites Service Dog Missing for 5 Weeks with Retired Navy SEAL

The trapper baited a cage trap with raw chicken and played dog commands in German on his phone
Katie Hill Avatar
Navy SEAL Tom Malak with Belgian Malinois Nikki and trapper Jay Gerrish
Gerrish and Port St. Lucie Animal Control helped return Nikki to Malak. Port St. Lucie Police Department

A heartwarming reunion took place in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Sunday night when a retired Navy veteran and his beloved service dog were reunited after five long weeks.

Retired Navy SEAL Tom Malak’s service dog, a Belgian Malinois named Nikki, likely slipped through a hole in his backyard fence, WPBF News reports. After she was spotted roughly two miles away from Malak’s house in a wooded area near Torino, Port St. Lucie Animal Control called on local nuisance wildlife trapper Jay Gerrish to help catch her, according to a Facebook post from the Port St. Lucie Police Department.

Gerrish set a cage trap in the area near where Nikki was last seen, using raw chicken as bait. Gerrish set the trap so the wind would carry the scent in the general direction he believed the dog was living. He also hung a trail camera nearby to monitor the trap and surrounding woods. Knowing that Nikki had been trained with German commands, Gerrish also played a loud video of German dog commands on his phone before departing in hopes of catching her attention.

Within a half an hour of Gerrish leaving the spot, the camera captured Nikki eating the raw chicken. The trap worked and secured the Malinois, who was unharmed from her weeks in the woods and the trap. Gerrish and Port St. Lucie Animal Control returned to the site and collected the trap. 

“I was over the moon excited. My heart was pumping,” Gerrish told WPBF of hearing the news. “It’s a feeling I could never describe to anybody, to know that we might have her safe tonight.”

Gerrish returned to Malak’s home with Nikki in tow. 

“I saw them carry Nikki into the house, and I said, ‘That’s my dog! That’s my dog!’” Malak said. “[The] trapper let Nikki out of the cage, and Nikki went crazy, giving me kisses and hugs.”

After returning Nikki to Malak, Gerrish went the extra mile and patched the hole in Malak’s fence to avoid any future issues, although he wouldn’t accept any money, Malak told WPBF.

“I have to find some way to thank him,” he said.

Read Next: Loyal Dog Stayed Beside Missing Hiker’s Body for 7 Weeks in San Juan National Forest

But Gerrish seemed rewarded enough by witnessing Nikki and Malak back together again..

“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like that prior in my life,” Gerrish said. “To see that reunion, it was amazing.”