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Dog that bolted during vigil chaos at UF returned safely to owner

Four days after a dog slipped his leash at a vigil held at the University of Florida for victims of the attacks in Israel, Koda the pitbull mix is back home, her owner said Friday.

The dog’s owner, Nayana Wing, 24, of Gainesville announced her happy news on Facebook, explaining that a couple in a neighborhood about four blocks north of UF’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium found Koda under their porch and contacted her. The pooch’s disappearance and Wing’s pleas for help finding him had been blasted over social media and local news outlets.

“Literally cried my eyes out this morning,” Wing wrote on Facebook, under a photograph of her reunited with the dog. “I’m sooo happy you have no idea.”

Wing, a Santa Fe College student, said Koda slipped his collar during the panic Monday night during a vigil at UF’s Turlington Plaza. Authorities said a person fainted and people’s pleas to call 911 led attendees to believe they were in danger. The crowd, estimated at roughly 1,000 people, scattered in panic trampling over each other and causing minor injuries.

Wing – who had offered a $200 reward for Koda – said she searched across UF’s sprawling campus and nearby neighborhoods, including downtown Gainesville, Depot Park and nature parks. It wasn’t immediately clear how long Koda had been under the family’s porch.

“I know he was just excited to be back,” wrote Wing’s friend, McKenzie Plant, 22, of Gainesville, in a message.

Wing adopted the brown pit bull mix four years ago from the county’s animal shelter. The dog had been found abandoned and tied to a pole in a shopping center’s parking lot. 

“This means the absolute world to me,” Wing wrote Friday.


This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

Debra is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing