A man who lost his dog two years ago in a New York City suburb has reunited with his long-lost pet in Ocala, Florida, more than 1,000 miles away from home.
Guiseppe DiBella said he was working in the yard of his Newburgh, N.Y. home in the spring of 2012, when his then-6-month-old toy fox terrier, Nika, disappeared. He said he tied her to a clothes line for just a few minutes.
"All the time I'd drive around in New York. If someone had a little dog, I'd look to see if it was my dog," DiBella recalled. "I posted flyers, I did everything possible to track this dog, but for two years and a half, I never had news."
Then, DiBella got a surprise email from Marion County Animal Services with the subject: "Found Dog."
"I said, 'Wow, they found my dog!'" DiBella exclaimed.
Nika was identified by microchip technology, which allowed the shelter to contact Nika's owner in New York. DiBella saw the call came from Marion County, but at first he didn't realize Nika was in Florida.
"Not in Florida, 1,000 miles away. It was unbelievable," said DiBella. "I can't even imagine this size dog getting in Florida."
DiBella bought a plane ticket and arrived Friday in Ocala to get back his beloved Nika.
Staff members who helped care for Nika at the animal shelter in Marion County placed a framed photo of the fox terrier at the front desk, hoping Nika's story inspires others to get their pets microchipped.
"You'll have that peace of mind knowing your pet can be identified anywhere it goes," said Marion County Public Information Officer Elaine McClain.
Marion County said Animal Services has reunited 132 owners with their pets last year, a 40 percent increase from 2012, all thanks to the microchips.
DiBella said he may never know how Nika disappeared, or how she got to Florida, but he's just happy to have her back.
"I can't wait to bring her back home and play in the backyard with all her stuff that's still there," DiBella said.