When Hurricane Sandy hit, Chuck and Elicia James and their kids — Alexandra, Kelsey and Liam — were living in Keansburg, New Jersey, with their Pit Bull mix, Reckless. Everybody made it through OK, but their fence didn’t. It was mangled. That’s how Reckless got out. He escaped into the aftermath of the storm and vanished, according to the Asbury Park Press.
“We had a collar on the dog, but it got caught on the fence and came off,” James said.
They searched for the dog, to be sure. But as the months worn on, they lost hope.
“We reported him missing and called the shelters periodically, just hoping they had him,” James said Saturday. “We always kept our hopes up, but eventually it’s time to move on.”
That was a year and a half ago. They mourned their dog and eventually they were ready to move on. Chuck and Elicia planned get a new dog as a 10th birthday surprise for their daughter Ally.
They went about it right, making an appointment and bringing the whole family to the Monmouth County SPCA, even Ally, to see if any dogs jumped out at them. Immediately, one did. In the first cage they were brought to. A Pit Bull mix, just like their old Reckless. They peered in. The dog stood up, excited.
It was Reckless.
“Literally, when we opened the double doors, the first cage we walk up to I thought, ‘That looks like Reckless,'” Chuck said. “He was a little heavier and it’s been a little while, but then my wife saw the scar on his head and immediately we start tearing up. We found our dog.”
Reckless, after 18 months, was right there waiting for them.
“He was laying on my wife’s feet, and I knew it was him,” he told the AP. “I was in disbelief. I know this dog is meant to be with our family.”
The shelter wanted some more assurance than that, so a friend emailed over a photo of the dog with the family before the storm hit. The shelter said they picked up the dog last October as a stray.
The shelter asked for a $180 adoption fee, which Chuck gladly paid.
“They took care of the dog, microchiped him, he saw vets regularly and they sheltered him,” James said.
“It’s not very often we’re able to reunite them with their owners in the way that this happened,” said Liz Wise, development and marketing director at the Monmouth County SPCA, according to the USA Today. “It also shows the importance of microchiping your pets, because had he been microchiped, we would’ve been able to reunite him with his family sooner.”
The family is thrilled to have Reckless home, calling it “an amazing experience.” They also have a new appreciation for the value of no-kill shelters.
“We’re all so happy to have him back,” James said. “Thank God for no-kill shelters because every time they kill an animal, it’s somebody’s friend who might be lost. Thank God they didn’t put him down because this would have been a different story.”
Reckless is now living with the family in a hotel, as their home is still being repaired. Over the weekend, they went on a camping trip to celebrate his return.
And as for the shelter that housed the dog, all the publicity over Reckless has been a boon for adoptions. Monmouth County SPCA reports that it adopted more than 30 dogs and cats over the weekend.
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