Eight years after his disappearance, a pit bull named Harley has been reunited with his family living across the country, authorities have said.
In 2013, Betsy DeHaan adopted Harley from Lee County Pet Services in Fort Myers, Fla., but within about a year, Harley disappeared, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said.
“We searched and navigated and looked and put up posters and sent the wanted and missing animal and never stopped looking for it,” DeHaan told WINK News.
Still, Harley was nowhere to be found, and in the years that followed, the family moved to Gainesville, Missouri, according to WINK News and the sheriff’s office. They never had another dog.
Over the holiday weekend, a local family spotted a brown pit bull in a neighborhood 15 miles south of downtown Fort Myers, authorities said.
Not knowing what to do, the family texted Angie Bray, a volunteer at a local animal rescue center, and uploaded a video, Bray told McClatchy News.
“When I got the dog, it was so much worse than the video. His nails were so overgrown they bent sideways when he walked, and he was just skin and bones,” said Bray.
Still, the dog, later identified as Harley, was “so sweet and so happy, all he wanted was love and attention,” she said.
Bray took Harley to a local location to be scanned for a microchip, she recalled. Following the microchip information, Bray and the vet identified DeHaan as Harley’s owner.
When Bray reached out to her, DeHaan was hesitant but soon realized Harley was truly found, she told WINK News.
“It’s like a miracle. I can’t believe he was found,” DeHaan told Bray.
The meeting was years in the making.
“Everyone was so shocked,” Bray said. She was in tears “thinking of being separated from one of our dogs for eight years”.
Harley stayed at the local animal control facility until DeHaan could travel the 1,200 miles to pick him up, Bray said.
“I can’t thank you enough!” DeHaan commented on the sheriff’s office’s Facebook post. “Harley and I went home. …He’s still the same big hug he always was!
McClatchy News reached out to Betsy DeHaan for comment but did not get a response.
This story was originally published July 6, 2022 12:42 p.m.