For the last seven months, JoeAnn Navarro of Galveston, Texas, has been frantically searching for her missing dog. Last week she learned that her 1-year-old pit bull Blue ended up 1,100 miles away, in Kokomo, Indiana, and thanks to the generosity of strangers, the two will soon be reunited.
It all started on May 26, when 69-year-old Navarro said she suspects someone stole Blue, along with her other pit bull named Maggie, from her backyard in Galveston, Texas.
Navarro said there’s no way the dogs jumped the fence, and the gate was latched and shut when she discovered the dogs were missing. Right away, she made the rounds to the animal shelters and vet clinics, but the pit bulls were nowhere to be found.
Over the months, Navarro said she kept an eye out for Blue and Maggie, hoping they might turn up.
"Every time I passed somebody's yard, I always looked to see if maybe they were there," she said. "I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I just wanted Blue home."
As time passed, Navarro began to give up hope she’d ever be reunited with her pit bulls.
But on Wednesday, she received a phone call from the Kokomo, Indiana, Humane Society. They had Blue, and she was healthy and safe.
"When the call came, I didn't even look at my phone to see where it was coming from," Navarro said. "When they said they were from Kokomo, Indiana, I said, 'What! How did she get all the way up there? If only Blue could talk!'"
Karen Wolfe, executive director of the Kokomo Humane Society, said it was a stranger who dropped Blue off at the animal shelter on Jan. 6, saying the pit bull was a stray.
Wolfe said they had room at the shelter, so they took Blue in.
"She's a beautiful dog," she said. "You don't like every dog you meet, but I liked Blue. She's a sweet pit bull."
Then they discovered Blue had been tagged with a tracking microchip. Wolfe scanned the chip, but found it hadn’t been registered, so she didn’t know where Blue had come from.
Wolfe made a call to the company who had produced the chip, and discovered it had been implanted in Galveston. The company also had Navarro’s contact information.
Navarro said she was ecstatic when she received the phone call from the humane society informing her they had Blue.
There was just one problem. Navarro lives 1,100 miles away from her beloved pit bull. After recently losing her job, she didn’t have enough money to make the 34-hour round trip drive from Texas to Indiana.
That’s when she turned to Galveston County’s local newspaper, The Daily News. The paper published a story online Thursday about Navarro’s plight.
Instantly, donations began pouring in to help get Blue home to her owner.
Then on Friday, Navarro said she received the best news of all. A retired sheriff’s deputy whose aunt volunteers at the Galveston Island Humane Society offered to make the trip to pick up Blue.
"I just started crying when I heard that," Navarro said. "I was so happy. I cry now just thinking about it."
The Kokomo Humane Society also pitched in to help Navarro, lowering their fee of $120 to $50, which includes shots and spaying.
So how did Blue end up in Kokomo in the first place? Wolfe said it will likely always be a mystery.
"It’s wild. A lot of crazy things happen, and this is one of them," she said. "That’s a long way for a dog to come."
But for Navarro, solving the mystery doesn’t matter right now. She’s just thrilled Blue is coming home.
"I hope she remembers me," she said. 'It’s been so long, and she was a puppy when she left and now she’s an adult. I’m going to be so excited to see her. I can’t even explain how I feel right now."
Anyone who would like to donate to cover fuel and expenses for the Galveston volunteer driving to Kokomo can contact the Galveston Island Humane Society at 409-740-1919.
Gerber writes for The Kokomo Tribune in Kokomo, Indiana.