Ally Blue held the leash of her missing American Staffordshire terrier and decided that she wasn’t ready to let go.
On April 20, she received a call from the Midlands Humane Society in Council Bluffs — a five-hour drive from her home in Huron, South Dakota — that Burtie was rescued.
After almost two years, Burtie reconnected with her family on Wednesday, meeting the two children the Blues had in the years Burtie was gone, Townes, 19 months, and Maverick, 4 months.
How Burtie ended up in Council Bluffs is a mystery, and Bluffs Animal Control Officer DeAnn Nelson said the case shows why owners should have their pets microchipped.
Blue and her husband, Beau, had moved to South Dakota, bought a house and became pregnant with their first son when Burtie was stolen from their property in 2017, Blue said.
“I was in our front room cleaning our windows. I saw Burtie in the front yard, and thought, ‘There’s no way she could have gotten out,’ ” Blue said. “I put our other dog in a safe place and went outside, but she was gone. I couldn’t believe it. We never saw a trace of her again.”
Blue said they called the humane society every day and searched for a long time before realizing that Burtie might never come home.
“We didn’t forget about her; we just didn’t think we would ever see her again,” Blue said. “We had her harness, leash and favorite blanket and kept it because … you never know.”
The Blue family said that when they received the call from Council Bluffs just before Easter, they were shocked and couldn’t believe that Burtie had been found almost five hours away.
“I called my entire family; everyone was so excited,” Blue said.
The family made a one-day trip to Council Bluffs and back on Wednesday to retrieve their beloved Burtie.
“Hopefully, she gets home and fits right back in where she was and we can get some more meat on her bones,” Blue said. “This is what she looked like when we adopted her.”
Burtie looked calm reuniting with her loved ones, but Kori Nelson of the Midlands Humane Society said the honeymoon period can take a while to figure out for some animals.
“She has a ton to take in,” Nelson said. “She has to figure out what everyone’s role is and where her safe zone is since everything has been uprooted for her several times. They have to learn a new way of life again.”
The saving grace for Burtie was her microchip with her owners’ contact information.
Because pit bulls are banned in Council Bluffs, Nelson said, Burtie would have been put on the adoption floor somewhere else had it not been for the microchip.
Galen Barrett, Council Bluffs’ chief animal control officer, said the person who was in possession of Burtie in the Bluffs was watching over her for a family member who was incarcerated. Barrett said that person had taken care of Burtie for the last three months and didn’t know that the dog was stolen.
Barrett said Burtie was found “running at large” and was reported missing by her temporary guardian, who acknowledged Burtie as a “friendly, really nice dog.”
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“This is one great example of a reason to get microchips for your pets,” Nelson said. “We would have put Burtie up for adoption out of city limits if we weren’t able to contact her owners.
“It is the one continuous link to your animal that no picture or paper can do. It’s a foolproof way to take ownership of your pets.”
Nelson said Midlands and animal control professionals who handled Burtie did not suspect that she had been abused.