Topeka, KAN. (WIBW)—It's easy to give up when your dog's been missing more than a year. But as one man discovered, you should never lose hope. After all, someone else might have been stepping up in your absence.
A Great Dane named Tess had an ideal dog's life with her owner Steven Flickinger and his family, until one fateful winter day over a year ago.
“There were snowy footprints, the gate was open, and the dog was stolen,” said Flickinger.
With his dog missing for over a year, Flickinger describes what happened Monday at the Helping Hands Humane Society as a miracle. Tess was brought into Helping Hands as a stray and she was scanned for a microchip. The microchip was then able to be traced back to her owner, who received a phone call he was not expecting.
“I am so happy to have her back in my life. I told my boys there was a chance Tess might have been found. My youngest was so excited he was jumping.”
But there was one major wrinkle in this reunion. While Flickinger was excited to see Tess, Joe Burk and his family arrived at Helping Hands. His family believed Tess was really Sheely -- their dog who ran away from their home a few days ago.
“She is our dog. The way she acted, the way she came up to us, her colors…” said Burk.
The Burks adopted their dog Sheely from Helping Hands around the same time the Tess disappeared from the her home. Helping Hands Executive Director Bill Acree said he doesn't think Tess and Sheely are the same dog. Acree says it's likely the Great Danes share similar features -- but that the microchip is the trump card when it comes to legal matters.
“He's with his legal owner now, his true owner. That's why it's important to microchip your dog," said Acree.
“There's no doubt in my mind that's our dog. That being said he lived years with his first owner and only one with us. It's too bad someone stole him and created this whole problem,” said Burk.
Still, Helping Hands is waving their fees for Joe and Cassandra Burk to find a new friend for their family. Joe Burk says he already misses Sheely, the black Great Dane. He said of course they will get another dog, because they can't live without one.
Flickinger's gratitude towards the Helping Hands Humane Society overflows as he said he likely would not have been reunited without their help.