“I think it’s a total, true miracle,” said Patti De Vincenzi.
After De Vincenzi’s family dog Grizzly went missing 18 months ago, the family searched for weeks, checked with animal shelters in Surrey and Langley, and kept his picture on missing pet websites.
They had essentially given up when on Jan. 24, a passerby alerted the Patti Dale Animal Shelter to a stray chocolate lab near 256th Street.
Identifying tattoos inside the dog’s ear led the shelter to De Vincenzi, her husband Stuart Bailey, and their children Shayla, Matteo, Zander, and Kristen.
“At first I don’t think any of us believed it,” said son Matteo.
But Grizzly, lost from Fraser Heights in 2014, had turned up again.
Langley Animal Protection Society staff turned Grizzly over to Patti and Stuart’s family last month.
“As you can imagine, he and his family were over the moon with joy,” said animal shelter manager Sean Baker.
The dog remembered his family and ran up to greet them. He’s even getting along well with two-year-old Kristen, who was a tiny infant when Grizzly disappeared in July, 2014.
He even seemed to recognize the family’s other dog, a terrier named Moose.
“It’s like they didn’t miss anything,” said Stuart.
Where Grizzly was and what happened to him over the past year and a half remain a mystery. LAPS was contacted by a Langley resident who had just lost him – but they had also found him loose, and had had him for just six weeks.
The family doesn’t know whether he was taken or simply found, but whoever had him for most the past two years didn’t take him to a shelter, where he would have been identified by the tattoos.
Grizzly is about 30 pounds overweight, and had a torn ACL tendon, his fur was matted, and he had a lot of plaque on his teeth.
At Shayla’s prompting, the family set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the thousands needed for Grizzly’s ACL surgery, which succeeded at raising the needed funds.
“Although we are very glad the dog has finally gone home, I am very confident that this dog would have been home a long time sooner if it had been wearing a dog licence and if the finders had simply turned the dog in to an animal shelter,” Baker said.
People have the best intentions in keeping lost dogs, but it often results in them never being returned to their original owners or taking much longer, said Baker.