A Freeport animal rescue hopes to reunite a dog with her family some 1,200 miles away in South Florida, more than a year and half since they were separated.
On Tuesday, a woman brought a stray dog she had found to Bobbi and the Strays, hoping to find a home for it, said Myra Kennett, a rescue volunteer.
Volunteers scanned the dog’s microchip and were surprised to discover the female shepherd mix was registered to a teen and his family in West Palm Beach, Kennett said.
Getting in touch with the family was a challenge. Though West Palm Beach avoided a direct strike from Hurricane Irma, the community saw power outages, limited cell service and debris after the storm passed through on Sept. 10 and 11.
Two days after the storm, Richard Moneck, 18, said he got a call from a phone number he didn’t recognize, and the caller told him a New York rescue was trying to get in touch with him about his dog.
“At first I thought it was a scam,” he said. “Then I called her and she was telling me everything. I was shocked, I didn’t even think my dog would be all the way up in New York.”
Rick Moneck, 56, an electronics repairman, said the family had adopted the dog, named Relay, when she showed up at an acquaintance’s warehouse in 2014.
“She was a beautiful dog, very well behaved and just a puppy,” Moneck said.
Relay and the Monecks’ other dog often played together in the backyard, but in February 2016, when Relay was about 2, the 35-pound dog climbed under the backyard fence, Moneck said. That was the last time they saw her.
The family said they spent months looking for Relay, putting up flyers, knocking on doors and visiting businesses for miles around their home. The only trace of her was a fuzzy surveillance video clip from the gas station down the street, which appeared to show a man picking up Relay and putting her in his car.
“Either she was dead or someone had her, and we were hoping someone had the dog,” Moneck said. “I used to say to my friends and family, ‘That dog is going to turn up one way or another.’ ”
The family said they need to figure out the best way to bring the pup home since they can’t afford to retrieve her on their own.
Kennett said Bobbi and the Strays is trying to find a volunteer to drive Relay down to Florida. They’re asking anyone who can help to call the shelter at 516-378-4340.
The Monecks are hopeful.
“It’s unbelievable, just thinking the dog that we loved so much is still alive and we can meet up with her again,” Moneck said.