WSU students find and return lost dog


Joseph Eichele

A group of three Winona State University students found a missing dog on Jan. 29, 2023. They were able to usher it into their Jeep Wrangler to warm up and proceeded to call 911 to help reunite the dog with its owner.

Gabriel Hathaway, Editor-In-Chief

Rescuing dogs was not a new hobby to Dr. Scott Hannon in his retirement, but on the night of Jan. 29 with temperatures below zero, Hannon’s latest rescue, a small black, white and brown toy Australian shepherd named Oliver, got spooked and ran off into the night. 

“I couldn’t see where he had gone. So I ran in the house quick, grabbed a flashlight, came out, looked around, no dog,” Hannon said. “I was like, ‘Holy cripes, I can’t believe it.’” 

Hannon has been rescuing dogs for 10 to 15 years and with a new rescue like Oliver, who he only got a few months prior, Hannon knew he had to act quickly. Hannon jumped into action asking a neighbor for help in the search, looking in backyards and around snowbanks for prints or any sign of the dog, even getting his truck out to drive around. After calling his wife who was out of town about the news and hearing her “hysterical” reaction, Hannon called 911. 

Luckily for Hannon, 911 had already received a call about a dog fitting the description of Oliver, who was picked up over a mile away down below Sugar Loaf Road near the roundabout.

A group of three first-year Winona State University students, Rylie Hutter, Flint O’Connor and Riley Banks, found Oliver with his blue and white checkered jacket and leash on and stopped to help. 

The group had been driving home late from a trip to Rochester on Jan. 29 when they spotted Oliver off of Highway 43. It took some time, plenty of stop-and-go, beef sticks and help from other drivers, before Oliver was cornered. Banks made the move to safely catch Oliver and get him into their Jeep Wrangler to warm up. A sheriff spotted the students and got their story before contacting the local police to sort the situation out. 

Oliver, the dog. (Contributed by Scott Hannon)

Finally, an hour after Oliver ran away, Hannon was reunited with his dog once again. Oliver may have only been missing for an hour but on such a cold night for such a small dog, time is of the essence.  

“Most Winona State students don’t get enough credit for doing good things in their community,” Hannon said. “So this is above and beyond.”

The students, Hutter, O’Connor and Banks, all commented that they went out of their way to save the dog because it was just the right thing to do. They emphasized that it is important to help people out in situations that you yourself would want help with. 

“I have dogs at home and a couple of them have run away a couple times,” Hutter said. “I know how it feels when a dog runs away so it is always nice to be able to help people like that.” 

Hannon, a lifelong Winona resident, has Winona in his blood. Hannon earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial arts as well as a six-year certificate in education administration from Winona State. Hannon served the Winona Area Public School system in a variety of roles, most notably as superintendent, for 40 years. Further, Hannon was also honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014. His wife Carmen is also a Winona State alum, class of 1974. 

Hannon emphasized his gratitude to the three Winona State students who helped save his dog and pointed out their great strength of character. Further, he emphasized that Winona State has a lot of great students. 

“I think it’s pretty indicative of most of the students here. I mean, it’s like society in general, good, bad, and a few ugly, and I think Winona State’s got a lot, a lot, a lot of really fine students, and this is just indicative of who they are and who they’re representing,” Hannon said. “Not only are they representing Winona State, but they are representing their own family, their own family morals.”

Finally, Hannon ended his story with a joke. 

“I told the cop, I said, ‘Yeah, you know, this worked out because the next thing you probably would have been doing, you would have been here on a murder charge, my wife would have killed me for losing the dog!’” Hannon said.