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Worley Bird Banks has found a foster home thanks to efforts by the community.

A stray dog has brought together friends and strangers alike.

Evan Banks immediately knew he needed to take action when a dog in dire condition ran past him and a group of friends in Downtown St. Joseph in late October.

“If we didn’t take her, she would get somewhere where nobody could (get her) or get too far away. We just realized immediately that she needed some professional assistance,” Banks said.

The group was able to catch the skittish stray, later christened Worley Bird Banks, and Banks took her home. However, Worley wasn’t quite ready to stay.

“That night, she tripped the latch on our kennel and seemed to have escaped from there,” Banks said.

A Facebook post appealing for people to keep their eyes open quickly gained steam. Taylor Stephenson, an animal lover experienced in fostering dogs who hadn’t known Banks until that point, was able to track Worley down and slowly gain her trust.

“We were out until 10:30 at night searching and couldn’t find her,” she said. “Then this gentleman, Todd Worley, told Evan he saw her in his backyard just a few blocks over. It was difficult to catch her, but we did it.”

A vet visit revealed the approximately 1-year-old Worley was in better shape than expected. Despite her emaciated appearance, the former stray didn’t have mange or heartworms. Worley’s fear of people might take a bit longer to overcome.

“She’s actually come a long way,” Stephenson said. “When I first had her, she wouldn’t even come out of her crate until I was sleeping, and now she crawls on the couch with me. She’s only wagged her tail once, but she’s coming around.”

The community’s support didn’t stop at locating Worley. A fundraiser set up by Banks raised more than $1,000 in the span of a few days, and many are following her journey on Facebook.

“It was really good to see an entire community rallied around something that needed this kind of help and just really come together to increase this animal’s quality of life,” Banks said.

Banks is planning on donating any funds exceeding Worley’s needs to the St. Joseph Animal Control and Rescue shelter.

Jennifer Lockwood, a humane educator with St. Joseph Control and Rescue, commended everyone’s quick actions and Stephenson’s willingness to foster Worley.

“Animal Control and Rescue is always here as a resource, but if you have the resources and ability to take the animal to the vet on your own, that’s fantastic,” Lockwood said. “The community has a really positive response to animals in need, which is really nice to see.”

While Stephenson has fostered several dogs through Unleashed Pet Rescue, saying goodbye doesn’t get easier.

“I bawl like a baby every time,” she said. “But it’s so worth it, because then I can just take another one in.”

Stephenson estimates it will take at least a few more months to get Worley ready for her forever home. Until then, she is enjoying her time with the dog.

“She is just a sweetheart,” Stephenson said. “She’s starting to come out of her shell a little bit and be a little playful. I think once she’s comfortable with me, we’ll see that side come out, but so far she’s just been really submissive and just gentle and sweet.”

Jessica Kopp can be reached

at jessica.kopp@newspressnow.com or you can follow her on Twitter: @NPNOWKopp