She goes to sleep with her ear to the phone and is known to bolt out of bed at all hours of the night to help somebody find their lost dog.
Chino Hills resident and pet sleuth Laura Montague has a gift for reuniting pets with their owners and her name is constantly popping up on social media feeds after being tagged when a photo of a lost dog is posted.
She has been called “living angel,” “hero,” “awesome,” and “amazing” and that’s just a few of the compliments sent her way over the past many years.
This week, she was called out on social media as somebody to be grateful for at Thanksgiving time.
Recently, the community showed their love by donating $3,600 for a tag engraving machine.
Residents who do not microchip in Chino Hills cannot get a license, so they fly under the radar until their dog goes missing, Mrs. Montague said.
“If we can’t get residents to microchip, the next best thing is to put a tag on their dog,” she said.
In the past, she purchased collars and tags for every dog, and spent her own money on veterinary visits, microchipping, vaccinations, and supplies.
When Chino Hills resident Arleen Udeshi met Mrs. Montague in 2015, she was astounded by her works and the amount of money she was spending.
“I told Laura she can’t keep doing this by herself,” Ms. Udeshi said. “She was paying for everything out of her pocket.”
Mrs. Udeshi decided to hold a community yard sale by collecting and recycling items people didn’t want anymore.
It was such a success she began hosting yard sales on a yearly basis, storing items all year long. The events raise between $2,000 and $2,500 and help Mrs. Montague with the supplies she needs to continue her work.
Community members donate items that are raffled during the sale.
“It has become a pretty cool little thing over the years,” Ms. Udeshi said. “It’s fun seeing everybody come by with their dogs to support Laura and share stories.”
The money is also used to buy the “secret weapon” when it comes to rescuing a scared dog—cheeseburgers.
“I’m just amazed by everything she does,” Ms. Udeshi said. “It doesn’t matter what time Laura’s phone rings. She will get up and do what she has to do.”
Mrs. Montague, who was the Champion’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 2017, said when somebody knocks at her door, texts, calls, or emails, she feels for that person because they are frantic about losing a family member.
Her own dog died two weeks ago and it was devastating, she said.
“The feeling I get when reuniting dogs with their owners is almost better than the feeling I get saving lives as a nurse, and when I saved lives working for the Los Angeles Police Department,” she said.
“Dogs love unconditionally no matter how their owners treat them,” she said.
The idea for a pet tagging machine started when friend and Chino Hills Realtor Jack Soliman was driving on the 71 Freeway and came across small plush toy puppies that fell off a truck and spilled onto the freeway.
They were run over countless times and Mr. Soliman managed to gather them up with the help of passers-by.
He “rescued” the toys and started a “GoFundMe” account to raise money for the tag engraving machine. The manufacturer of the plush puppies sent a box of new puppies that Mr. Soliman gave away as a “thank you.”
Mrs. Montague also has a microchip scanner which was donated to her several years ago.
Residents drive up to her home with the lost dog in their vehicle so she can scan the animal for a microchip.
She once united a dog that was missing for 12 years.
She has also united dogs that ended up in other states.
Mrs. Montague said her work would not be possible without the support of her husband, Ken Montague. Both are retired and commit their lives to volunteering.
They drive around the city removing graffiti and taking down illegal signs.
“Ken is a saint and I’m lucky to have him,” she said. “He should have divorced me a long time ago for doing all this crazy sh--.”