Last year started off poorly for Dylan Summers of Bourbon, Missouri, and his dog, Athena. Athena was hit by a car, resulting in surgery to amputate one of her back legs and part of her tail.
While she was still recovering in February, she disappeared from Summers’ yard. She was still supposed to be on post-operative medication, and Summers looked for her everywhere, but to no avail.
Was she lost? Stolen? He didn’t know. All he knew was that she was gone.
“I searched everywhere for her and posted online but no one came forward,” he told KTVI-TV. “I had suspicions that she was stolen but I couldn’t confirm it. I was so worried about her.”
Months passed by, with still no information on Summers’ lost pet. Then, in December, the St. Clair County Animal Control in Illinois worked with authorities to remove multiple dogs from a property where the owner was in trouble with the law.
Most of the dogs looked like they’d never had medical assistance — except for one. A female brindle of some sort, who’d clearly had expensive surgery as she was missing a back leg and part of her tail, stood out to her rescuers.
“Police removed her from a property where the owner was in serious legal trouble, and the other dogs at the residence looked like they had never had vet,” Gateway Pet Guardians, an Illinois animal shelter, posted on Jan. 1. “Naturally, we were all puzzled as to how a dog who had costly surgeries was there with them.”
The shelter took Athena in from the animal control department. They posted photos of her wearing a pink cute scarf to catch potential adopters’ eyes.
And it ended up catching Summers’ eye on Dec. 30. He’d decided, after months of missing Athena, that maybe he should start looking at available dogs — and he found the perfect one.
“It was about 9 p.m. on the night of December 30th and I just happened to check my voicemail before bed and there was a call from Dylan stating that we had his dog!” Gateway Pet Guardians Program Director Alisha Vianello said, according to KTVI.
“I called him back immediately and was so happy to learn that the dog we had named ‘Miss-A-Toe’ was actually his missing dog, Athena!”
“Everyone involved in her rescue had been so puzzled as to how a dog who not only was spayed but was also healthy and had received a life-saving surgery was on the property with other dogs who seemed likely to have never received veterinary care,” the director continued.
“All the missing pieces really came together when I spoke to Dylan. The next day I contacted her foster family, who was thrilled for her and arranged a time for everyone to meet at the GPG facility.”
Summers was thrilled to pick up where the two had left off, and Athena seems pretty happy with the arrangement, too.
“I was so happy to hear that she was safe and doing well, and being reunited with her was incredible,” Summers said. “She is already settled back in at home and it’s like she never left. I am so appreciative of Gateway Pet Guardians for getting her back home to me.”
The rescue mission posted the story and a photo of the two on Facebook, and it’s been just what many people needed to start their year off right. It seems Athena is now home to stay.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.