When a dirty, matted dog arrived at an animal shelter in Paterson, New Jersey the staff checked her for a microchip. They discovered that the Maltese-Pomeranian mix had been missing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida since 2013.
The chip led back to Bill Gerstein who had held onto hope that his dog, Bella would one day be found. Now, after 3 years and 1200 miles, they have finally been reunited.
Bella went missing on Friday December 13, 2013. She had accompanied Gerstein to work as she did most days. He shared the traumatic events of that day with North Jersey News:
“It was a Friday the 13th, I remember that. She would go out back and then come back in when she was done outside, and that day, I was distracted. I went back inside, realized about an hour later, ‘Oh my God, where’s the dog?’ So I went out back with my partner and other merchants from the area, and there was just no sign of her.”
The search for Bella carried on all through the night, but it was as if the little white lap dog had vanished. After months of networking on Facebook and searching – even using tracking dogs – Bella’s trail went cold.
This past Tuesday, Gerstein began his workday like any other day, but when he checked his email there was a message from petkey.org, the company that registered Bella’s microchip.
“I got an e-mail that said Bella had been found and I should contact Animal Control in Paterson. I reached out to them and gave them my cellphone number to send a picture.”
It was indeed Bella! After breaking the miraculous news to his ecstatic children, Gerstein boarded a flight to Newark the day before Thanksgiving.
“It was totally crazy. I always had this dream that she was in the Northeast, and as soon as I found out I was just like, OK, I’m getting on a plane. I was lucky to get something last minute on such a busy day.”
A friend of Gerstein’s business partner who lives in nearby Fair Lawn, NJ picked Bella up from the shelter and took her to a groomer for a much needed day of beauty. Upon landing, Gerstein rushed to the man’s home for the emotional reunion with the dog he feared he’d never see again.
“They had her in a crate, and when I got there and got to see her she was shaking and kissing me for like 10 minutes. She was a bit shaken, but she’s right back in the swing of things now. She recognized everyone, and now the kids fight over whose bed she will sleep in.”
Gerstein acknowledges that he “made a mistake and paid for it” by not keeping Bella on a leash that day. He now insists that the family dogs be leashed at all times when outside and strongly recommends that pet owners have their pets microchipped.
H/T to North Jersey News
Featured Image via Facebook/We Found Bella
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