A decade ago, Tracy Dove’s 1-year-old dog Charlie went missing. Last week, she got the call she had hoped for but thought she’d never get. Her dog was found alive.
“I was shocked, overwhelmed. I cried,” Dove told the Associated Press. “It’s amazing.”
Charlie had been found on the steps of a church near the south Alabama town of Brewton, about 250 miles from Charlie’s last known home in Cullman. A local called the Souls On Board Rescue Ride, a non-profit organization, to report the dog had been sitting on the steps for three days. Rescue Director Renee Jones retrieved Charlie and brought him to the Springhill Veterinary Clinic.
The next moment was crucial to Charlie’s reunification with Dove.
The Move that Brought Charlie Home
Veterinaries decided to scan Charlie for a microchip. It turns out Dove had Charlie implanted with a microchip detailing her contact information, which she kept updating on a database after Charlie went missing.
“We often get dogs with microchips, but often the information hasn’t been updated and the phone numbers don’t work,” Jones said. “When the number worked, it was pretty wild.”
On the other side, Dove could barely believe it.
“I was shocked and at first I thought ‘This has got to be a scam’ because it’s been 10 years,” Dove said. “They sent me a picture and I talked with them, and it’s my Charlie.”
Long Road Ahead
Still, Charlie isn’t out of the woods yet. He was found with noticeable health issues, a graying mussel, and a cancerous tumor in his chest. Charlie is expected to undergo surgery at a veterinary clinic in Mobile as soon as next week.
“It will be a lengthy road for him, but he’ll be home,” said Dove.
The last time Charlie was home, he was living with Dove and her then 8-year-old son in Cullman. Dove believes Charlie was stolen because the enclosure that housed him had been broken into. Charlie is a German Shorthaired Pointer, a breed preferred by hunters.
“It’s an expensive hunting dog,” Dove said. “We just kept him as a pet.”
Dove now lives in the town of Corner near Birmingham. She has set up an online fundraiser to cover Charlie’s surgery costs. She expects to be with him until she brings him home.
“He’s too weak and sick to make the trip home, so I am going to stay down there with him until he’s well enough to come home,” Dove said. “And then he’ll be my dog again.”