The family and friends of a Laval, Que., man who is missing in Mexico have new hope after his dog, Maya, was found alive.
Marc Ménard was last heard from on March 14, when he emailed his family and friends to say he was in the border town of Nuevo Laredo and on his way back to Canada.
Ménard, 44, was wrapping up a three-month road trip in Mexico with his basset hound.
No one has heard from him since.
Nuevo Laredo is notorious for its drug-cartel-related crime. It’s also home to Los Zetas, a powerful criminal syndicate said to be involved in, among other things, drug trafficking and kidnappings.
Ménard’s family believes he was kidnapped. Frustrated by the lack of help from authorities, they have been investigating the case on their own, through Facebook and contacts in Mexico.
Dog found wandering outside Nuevo Laredo
The strange tale of Maya's return begins when police found a basset hound wandering in a rural area about 30 minutes outside Nuevo Laredo.
"It's not a dog that any person has here in Nuevo Laredo. Only the rich have those types of dogs," says Gina Ferrara de Leon, head of the local animal shelter where Maya was dropped off.
"Right away, she caught their eye."
An employee at the shelter happened to be looking on Facebook, and spotted the dog's photograph on a page about Ménard.
That’s when Ménard’s family received the good news and began a four-month campaign to get Maya back.
“Maya, she’s an angel. We’re so happy to have her back,” said Marc Morneau, a friend of Ménard's.
It took months of back-and-forth with the police department and officials on the ground, but Morneau said the dog's return has brought them fresh hope.
He drove for 80 hours with two others to retrieve Maya from Mexico.
'Maya is a part of Marc'
Marie-Josée Tessier, who has known Ménard for 14 years, said she is certain he is still alive.
"We have faith, hope, that Marc's gonna come back."
Tessier said they believe Menard was kidnapped by two men, and that one of them is currently in custody on another charge.
They're trying to find a lawyer in Mexico to help them arrange a meeting with that man.
Tessier said if Maya survived whatever happened in Mexico, Menard might have survived as well.
“For us, it was very important to bring back Maya here. Maya is a part of Marc."