NORTH ANSON — When Christine Pierce heard about a family from Maryland who lost its dog while visiting relatives over the holidays, she piled her children and younger brother into her Jeep and went to look for it.

“I have a dog myself and I just know I would be devastated if anything happened to him,” she said. “I felt like I needed to go look, even if it was just for 10 minutes.”

After nine days of weather that included snow, freezing rain and temperatures that often dropped into single digits and below zero, Pierce found the dog on Monday morning in an abandoned warehouse in North Anson. The 1-year-old boxer named Dempsey had a broken leg and other injuries. He is being cared for at the Madison Animal Hospital and his owners plan to see him on Friday.

Dempsey disappeared in North Anson while his owner Jamie Cyrway and her three children of Severn, Md., were visiting Cyrway’s mother, Janet Boothby, for Christmas. Boothby, a teacher at Carrabec High School, said Dempsey jumped over a backyard fence and ran away Dec. 28 when Cyrway and her children had gone out.

“They went out the door and took Christmas presents and their winter clothing so they could sled. I think he thought they were leaving,” said Boothby. She said she drove around the neighborhood for two hours looking for Dempsey before calling her daughter to say he was missing.

Pierce, 30, an animal lover who also has a boxer, said she saw posts about the missing dog on Facebook and heard about multiple sightings in the area. She is a former student of Boothby’s.

Pierce and family members searched for the dog over several days.

“She’s the biggest animal lover I know and she just kept telling me, ‘Mom, I know that dog is around here,’ ” said Pierce’s mother, Maddy Pierce, Madison’s deputy town clerk.

Boothby said her family also spent days driving around looking for tracks and setting up what they called scent stations, where they put food and clothing that smelled like Cyrway and her children.

They never lost hope that they would find the dog, which was a Christmas present for Cyrway’s children, Vivian, 2, Jayden, 8, and Tyrr, 12, in 2012.

“Until we had proof he couldn’t or didn’t make it, we were going to believe he would be found,” said Boothby, 57.

On New Year’s Day, Cyrway and the children had to return to Maryland. Before they left, they spent the morning looking for the dog.

“It was a horrible departure with her and the children leaving their loved one behind,” said Boothby. “It was heart-wrenching.”

The family’s hope was renewed Sunday, when an animal control officer went to the Boothby’s house and said there had been a report that a big brown dog had been hit by a car on U.S. Route 201A. The man who hit the dog didn’t have a phone, so he went to a nearby house to call animal control, but when he returned, the dog had disappeared.

Nearly an inch of rain fell on Monday, closing schools and roads and making travel difficult. Pierce, who has a 5-month-old son and 6-year-old daughter, piled the children and her 11-year-old brother Roy into her Jeep and went to look for Dempsey after seeing the post about the accident on Facebook.

She headed to the former Wood Tech building, an old warehouse near Williams Farm on U.S. 201A. And there huddled in one of the old buildings was a skinny, soaking-wet dog.

“Picture the worst a dog could look. It was a little better than that,” said Pierce. “You could see every bone in his body and he was curled up in a little ball. It was just horrible.”

Boothby, who was searching nearby, heard Pierce yelling Dempsey’s name. She rode with them in the back of the Jeep to the animal hospital.

“You don’t come across people like that every day. Not only did she find our dog, she went with our mom to the vet. She’s visited him at the vet and given me updates. She calls me just for support,” said Cyrway, who said she didn’t know Pierce before Dempsey was found.

When he was brought in, Dempsey was severely hypothermic and was having seizures. He has a broken tooth and broken right tibia and will have to have surgery, said Darren Richards of the animal hospital. He said Dempsey had improved significantly by Wednesday morning and is expected to make a full recovery.

Dempsey’s chances of survival in the weather conditions were low, said Richards.

“It’s really unusual, especially given the temperatures we’ve experienced,” said Richards, adding that he thought that since Dempsey was found near a farm he might have found some warm hay to sleep in.

“It’s truly a miracle. When I look back, I think we were probably crazy to believe, but I never gave up hope,” said Boothby. “Even after they left, I still went out looking for and calling for him. I wouldn’t give up until we had reason to.”

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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