A dog owner told today how she was reunited with her beloved pooch – over NINE YEARS after the treasured family pet went missing.
Heartbroken Milissa Mae, 47, thought she would never see Niamh again after she disappeared in May 2004 aged just three.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier slipped through a gap in a back garden fence at the Mae family’s home near Worcester.
Despite a frantic search Niamh was never found, and her owners resigned themselves to the fact she had been lost forever.
But Milissa couldn’t believe her ears when she received a phone call from an animal sanctuary last week telling her Niamh had been found over 80 MILES away in Salisbury, Wilts.
Wardens took her in after she was spotted wandering the streets of the cathedral city – and traced her owners through her microchip.
Niamh was taken to nearby Bath Cats and Dogs Home (BCDH) for an emotional reunion with her owner almost ten years after they were separated.
Even staff at the shelter were moved to tears when the pair met – and Niamh recognised Milissa despite years apart.
Yesterday, Milissa hailed the reunion as a ‘Christmas miracle’ and said she had no idea why Niamh had suddenly turned up out of the blue.
She said: “I know in my heart someone must have taken her.
“She is such a friendly thing, she would walk right up to anyone.
“I didn’t think I’d ever see her again.
“But last week I got a phone call out of the blue telling me she’d been found and they’d identified her with her microchip.
“She was found in Salisbury but they took her to Bath so I could drive down and pick her up.
“I think she recognised me.
“She’s gone a little deaf and a little grey but otherwise she’s just the same.
“It was a very, very tearful occasion – even the girls from the dog’s home had tears in their eyes.
“She was very thin but apart from that she’s in surprisingly good condition, especially considering she’s a 12-year-old dog.
“Someone has obviously been looking after her in the intervening years.
“I don’t know how long she’d been wandering but she must have been in someone’s care for at least some of those nine years.
“She was very tired for the first few days but now she’s much more like herself.
“She’s getting on very well with my children as well – they were only at primary school when she went missing but they remember her and I think she remembers them.
“I keep telling them it’s a Christmas miracle.”
Niamh is now back at home with the Mae family, and is getting on well with their other dog Ferdy, seven, her granddaughter.
BCDH spokeswoman Caroline Hook said Niamh was found wandering the streets of Salisbury and bought to the home.
She said: “If it hadn’t been for her microchip we might never have been able to reunite her with her family.
“Mrs Mae and her family were in a state of shock and came to pick up Niamh in person.
“It certainly was an overwhelming reunion.
“Niamh recognised her ‘mum’, there was not a dry eye in the house.”