Brooklyn Park community unites after family loses home in fire, dog goes missing

An Otsego, Minnesota family is looking for their dog that went missing in Brooklyn Park not long after the family lost their home in a fire.

After an Otsego family lost everything in a house fire and their dog ran away in Brooklyn Park, an entire community came together to try and bring Rosie home. 

On Dec. 16, Matt and Catrina Saarela’s home in Otsego burned to the ground, and they lost almost everything they had. 

“We’ve been together for 20 years, and that’s everything - gone, so fast,” Catrina said. 

As they tried to keep life as stable as possible for their three kids and work to get their life back on track, the Saarela’s left their dog Rosie in the care of a family member in Brooklyn Park. On Dec. 23, Rosie, a shepherd-huskie mix, escaped and ran off. 

Since then, the Saarelas have been looking for Rosie. They are living in a camper on their property in Otsego, so traveling the 25 minutes or so to Brooklyn Park every time there’s a sighting of Rosie has been difficult.  

“Dealing with all of this stress and the house and the dog, it’s been hard,” Matt said. 

The Saarelas weren’t sure how they were going to be able to get Rosie home until they got in touch with a woman who came to them, they think, by fate. 

On Jan. 6, Robyn Jacobson was driving around her neighborhood in Brooklyn Park when she spotted a dog running down the street.  Robyn wasn’t able to get the dog to come into her car, so when she got home, she went searching for posts about missing dogs in the area. She found a post about Rosie and learned some background information about Rosie’s story. 

“Nothing is a coincidence. Your paths are crossed at the right time for the right reason. I just felt a tugging on my heart from God,” Robyn said. 

That tug told her to keep searching for Rosie and help the Saarela family by taking charge of the search efforts in Brooklyn Park. Robyn started posting about Rosie on social media and in local Facebook groups. Soon, others started sharing photos of sightings, helping Robyn circle in on a possible location. 

“It’s just gone viral, if you will. Everybody wants to know about Rosie,” Robyn said. 

Robyn enlisted the help of The Retreivers, a local group that specializes in finding lost animals and bringing them home. 

On Monday, The Retreivers put out a feeding station in a park near where Rosie had been spotted several days before. They filled a bowl full of food Rosie would love and set up a live camera to see what would happen.  Soon, Rosie came trotting by, captured on video. 

On Tuesday, The Retreivers set up a dog trap to try and lure Rosie into. Volunteers spread food around the trap trying to lure the dog to the area. The trap won’t hurt Rosie; it’s a fenced off area with a sensor near the opening so if she walks in far enough to get food, the door will close behind her, locking her inside until The Retreivers, who are sitting nearby, can pick her up and reunite her with her family. 

Now, the hundreds of people who have been working to get Rosie home and praying for her safety are waiting to see if this could finally be what reunited Rosie with her family. 

“It’s a piece of their family. Everyone knows dogs are part of your family, and their dog is missing and everyone’s praying for them and pulling for Rosie,” Robyn said. 

Meanwhile, the Saarelas are working to rebuild their life while feeling grateful to have one stress taken off their shoulders. 

“I can’t thank the community enough for their support and generosity during our time of need, and it really helps my kids see that yes, there are good people out there,” Catrina said. 

If you would like to help the Saarela family you can check out their GoFundMe page here.