A dog that went missing in New York more than two years ago turned up alive and well this week — in Florida.
According to Giuseppe DiBella, his 6-month-old toy fox terrier, Nika, vanished from the backyard of his Newburgh, New York, home in May 2012.
“It was one of the most horrible days of my life,” DiBella told New York's CBS 2.
DiBella spent a year searching animal shelters and distributing missing-dog posters, but he eventually all but gave up hope, buying another dog to replace his beloved pooch.
Last week, he got a phone call from police in Ocala, Florida, informing him that Nika had been found on the doorstep of local home.
“I said, ‘All right, I’m coming,'" DiBella said. "'Where are you?’ They said, ‘We are in Marion County.’ I said, ‘Where in Marion County?’ They said, ‘In Florida.’ I said, ‘I’m in New York!’”
According to Florida animal officials, Nika was identified by her microchip at an Ocala animal shelter.
“I was feeling, like, biblical — when the son comes back to the father, you know, those kind of things,” DiBella said.
DiBella's family friend in Florida is caring for Nika until the pair can be reunited.
It's not clear how the 5-pound hound made it from Newburgh to Ocala, roughly 1,090 miles away. DiBella believes Nika was stolen while he was mowing his lawn.
“Nika’s story is a beautiful example of the value of microchips,” Marion County Animal Services director Deborah Horvath said in a press release. “Collars and tags can be removed or lost, but microchips provide a lifelong means of identification. Microchips help reunite countless families, whether the stray animal is one or 1,000 miles away from home. We encourage all pet owners to microchip their pets.”
According to a 2012 study of animal shelters by the Humane Society, more than half (52 percent) of dogs with microchips were reunited with their owners, while 22 percent without microchips returned home.