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Wendy Reuer, Published January 17 2014

Montana man searching for lost dog near Casselton may return home today

CASSELTON, N.D. – John Kellems said he will have to return to Montana after today if no leads are found here to find Oliver, his 4-pound service dog that has been missing since they were involved in a Jan. 3 rollover crash on Interstate 94.

Since the accident, Kellems has been searching for his “best friend” and vowed not to return to his Great Falls, Mont., home until Oliver is found. Despite hundreds of volunteers who have stopped out to help search each day, no clues to Oliver’s whereabouts have been found in more than a week.

The last, was when tracking dogs seemed to find Oliver’s scent near a Casselton farm on Jan. 10.

One last organized push to find Oliver will begin today and will include the help of Cass County Sherriff’s Office k-9 units, Kellems said.

“If we find a good lead, then I will stay. But without that good lead, I need to return home,” Kellems said.

Kellems said he needs to return to Montana to be with his family. Kellems has two children, a son who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy and a 19-year-old daughter who is a college student in Montana.

“I’m returning to Montana for a couple reasons, mainly my daughter and just as importantly so the people of Casselton can kind of have their life back,” Kellems said. “I know the search may sometimes feel or seem intrusive to certain people.”

Although Kellems may return home without Oliver for now, he is still certain the Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix is alive and will be found eventually.

“I really do believe Oliver is in a shop or a garage or a barn somewhere,” Kellems said. “I think he’s fine. I think he’ll come out or someone will go in there and find him in time.”

Kellems said he doesn’t believe Oliver was picked up because he should still be wearing his blue collar and identification tags, plus there is a $2,000 reward out offered to anyone who finds him.

“He couldn’t be in a better place because of the support we have here,” Kellems said.

Kellems said he’ll likely return to Casselton in a few weeks when the weather improves.

While Kellems has not been able to express his gratitude for the Casselton and North Dakota residents who have helped search with him and their own, he hopes anyone planning to help today will check in with him before venturing out.

“We need to be responsible and respectful (of Casselton residents,” Kellems said.

Kellems circles back to the Tesoro convenience store off Interstate 94 roughly every half hour while searching.

For more information about the search, visit www.facebook.com/LOSTDOGFARGO.

“It’s going to be a long drive home without Oliver if we don’t find him.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530