It’s been a long journey, but a wayward dog is finally heading home.
Bay County Animal Control said on March 22, law enforcement officers brought in a stray two-and-a-half-year-old lab/pit mix, named Benny.
While he was microchipped, staffers said the information on the chip was for a prior owner that was stationed on a military base in Tennessee.
"Well, that was a real shock to us," said Mike Halstead, with Bay County Animal Control. "He's a high energy dog, I'm sure his owners are going to appreciate his return."
In April, Benny was featured on Bay County’s weekly Facebook video which highlights various cats and dogs available for adoption.
"We have not had an incident like this in all of the time I've served as the manager of animal control," Halstead said. "They saw Benny on Facebook and wished his return."
That’s when staffers were contacted by a family in Modesto, California, claiming to be Benny’s humans.
"To have found a dog in our drop box, put there by a police officer, and we don't know where he picked him up - but somewhere in Bay County, obviously. And then to be notified by a family in California that we had their dog was really a shock to all of us," Halstead said.
It appears Benny had escaped shortly before the family had moved to California, and somehow, he traveled from Clarksville, Tennessee to Bay County.
"We were like in the process of literally packing up our whole house. And I'm guessing one of the movers left the gate open or something and we never saw Benny again," said Gabby McAndrew, Benny's owner.
The McAndrews were moving to Medosta, California because McAndrew's husband, who serves in the Army, was being deployed.
For months after the move, McAndrew said she scoured social media pages searching for Benny. Thanks to the Facebook post by the Bay County Animal Control, she found him.
After some planning, Benny flew out of Flint Bishop on May 21 to be reunited with his family in California.
"What's a dog that went missing three months ago in California doing back in Bay City? And we have no idea whatsoever as to how it got here, but we're more than happy to unite the original owners with the dog," Halstead said.
It's a happy ending that McAndrew had long given up on.
"We cried. We literally cried. He's my husband's dog," McAndrew said. "I couldn't believe it. We honestly thought that he might have been dead because we couldn't find him."
McAndrew is excited for the reunion.
"I can't even describe how excited I am because it's crazy. Like, he was lost for so long and then like his reaction, I already know that he is going to squeal. He likes to squeal, so really excited," McAndrew said.
Benny will soon call the Golden State home, but his owner will never forget what the people of Mid-Michigan did for her four-legged loved one.
"We're so grateful, everything that they've done. Like, I want to cry just talking about it. Like, it's just really emotional and I'm so happy that they took care of Benny because I know he's a handful," McAndrew said.
While McAndrew gets to see Benny on Tuesday, she said her husband won't be reunited with his pet until February.