Conway Area Humane Society

Memorable Miracle for Jackson ACO

In honor of National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week, we featured former animal control officer Lauren Orsini’s unique perspective on the profession. We would also like to feature Lauren’s most memorable experience serving the Jackson community in this role.


“If I had to share my most memorable experience as an animal control officer, it would be a story that happened Christmas Eve,” Lauren recounts. Years ago, Jackson resident Bob Santoro lived in both California and Jackson, New Hampshire. Bob was a pilot, and while flying from California to Jackson with his family, his plane crashed. His beloved wife and one of his sons tragically did not survive that crash, leaving himself and his remaining son Dawson behind.


Lindsey, the family’s 9-year-old dog, also along for the plane ride, was not found at the crash site. This prompted a search by family and friends for a dog many believed was dead. Nearly a week later, two local teens rescued Lindsey from a ditch. Suffering a ruptured diaphragm and a broken leg, Lindsey soon became Bob and Dawson’s 55-pound miracle. Lindsey served as their connection to lost family members, providing crucial companionship in their passing.


When Lindsey died a few years later, Dawson was incredibly distressed. A local community member knew this young man’s grief and made a benevolent gesture. She offered to donate a therapy dog to him for Christmas and had the perfect pup in mind – a five-year-old labrador retriever named Nellie.


Bob picked up Nellie and asked friends to keep her at their house on Christmas Eve, to hide this Christmas day surprise. Unfortunately, Nellie escaped from their house that night. It was animal control officer Lauren Orsini who got the call to respond.


Lauren reviewed a few key details of the situation as she made her way over to the house. She realized that Nellie escaped a house she had never visited before. This meant that the neighborhood she escaped into was completely foreign to her. She also realized that a severe nor’easter was headed into Mount Washington Valley in only three days. In other words, Lauren had three days at most to find Nellie and return her to her new owners. There was little chance that Nellie could survive if left outside in that storm, as she had never even spent a night outside.


Lauren, Bob and Dawson searched for days for Nellie, including most of Christmas Day, without success. Many community members joined the search. On the third day, Lauren traveled to Naples, Maine to borrow a large Havahart trap from an animal control officer she knew in that area. She contacted the donor of Nellie so she could fill the trap with bedding and clothing Nellie would recognize by scent. Finally, Christmas leftovers were placed inside the set trap. With mere hours to spare before the deadly storm hit, Nellie was inside the Havahart Trap. Dawson was then united with the dog he had never met, but had been searching for for days. Bob was so appreciative of Lauren’s hard work that he donated a large dog sized Havahart trap to Jackson Police Department for future rescues.


Eight, years later, Nellie remains a Mount Washington Valley resident, loved by a family who has turned a string of tragic incidents into an opportunity to give this dog the best life she can have. “Animal control officers can really make a difference for both animals and people,” Lauren recounts. This miraculous story certainly proves this fact to be true.


Do you have a loved one who has passed on, or a special animal who has had a significant impact in your life? You can donate to Conway Area Humane Society in honor of a loved one, or in support of the animals we take in whose owners who have passed on or can no longer take care of their beloved pets due to life circumstances. You can purchase a memorial brick or plaque as well.

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