'Miracle' Lost Dog Found Under Terry 'JuJu' Smith House

Story includes corrected information regarding the time and location of the birth of the puppies.

Virtually everyone in town remembers the case of Terry "JuJu" Smith, the 11-year-old boy for whom hundreds of Menifee residents searched until his body was found buried in the back yard of the family home last July.

That story, which is ongoing with the prosecution of Terry's half brother for murder, had more than its share of bizarre twists. For one, the body was discovered after a woman claiming to be a "visionary" said she was led through dreams to the shallow grave, located at the family home on Helen Lane, behind Menifee Market on Scott Road.

In a strange coincidence, another search in the very same area last week -- albeit on a much smaller scale -- resulted in the discovery of a lost dog on the very same property.

Postings on several local Facebook pages were buzzing for days as dog lovers searched rural areas along Scott Road between Murrieta Road and Antelope Road -- the location a 4-year-old female cattle dog was last seen. Complicating matters, the dog was close to giving birth. After a week-long search, the dog was found hiding under the Smith family home.

"Yes, we were just talking about how weird that connection is," said Mary Ann Parker of Rocking M Ranch and Rescue in French Valley.

The dog, named Miracle by her rescuers, is recovering at the Rocking M Ranch after giving birth to eight puppies there on Thursday. Mother and babies are healthy, Parker said. The owner of the dog, which was picked up as a stray Dec. 2, has given up rights to Miracle so all nine dogs will be available for adoption soon.

After Riverside County Animal Control officers picked up the dog as a stray, she was taken to Animal Friends of the Valley in Wildomar. There, said facility director Willa Bagwell, officials consulted with a local veterinarian who said the puppies should be aborted and the dog spayed.

"Our vet felt it was safe to abort the puppies and spay her," Bagwell said. "He was taking her to his clinic to do that."

According to Nina Medina, director of the Menifee Valley Humane Society, the decision of whether to abort puppies in order to spay a dog is up to the officials at each facility. Dr. Nilo Villareal of Angel Care Pet Hospital was in the process of transporting Miracle to his clinic at Antelope and Scott roads when, somewhere along the way, the dog escaped.

"It's as if she knew what was going to happen," Medina said.

Villareal did not return a phone call from Menifee 24/7.

Medina said Villareal told her the dog got loose outside his clinic as he was exiting the car. Other witnesses said she escaped near Menifee Market when the car stopped at the feed store there. At any rate, the dog later to be named Miracle was searched for in the area surrounding Menifee Market, Wickerd Farms and adjacent areas until last Friday.

The night before, someone reported spotting a stray dog wandering onto the property of Shawna "Bekkah" Smith, mother of Terry Smith Jr. During a search of the property the next day, Medina peeked under the house and played the sound of puppy squeals from her phone.

There, perhaps 25 yards from where JuJu Smith's body was found in a shallow grave, Medina discovered Miracle hiding under the house.

"We had brought in a night-vision camera and Bekka said she had seen her," Medina said. "We named the mother Miracle and one of the puppies JuJu."

Those wishing to inquire about adopting one of the dogs or to make a donation supporting the Rocking M Ranch and Rescue should visit the non-profit group's website.


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