When Brenda Travis and Tom Shields’ two basset hounds were stolen from their home in Murfreesboro, Tenn., more than five years ago, the couple did everything they could think of to get their dogs back:
They called local veterinarians.
Put up posters.
Visited local rescue and animal shelters.
After a year of waiting, the couple gave up hope.
Life went on.
The couple moved to Wichita and began raising a grandson.
And then, last Wednesday, a phone call came.
Brenda Travis didn’t answer.
“I don’t take phone calls during the day, unless it’s nap time. With the baby, I can’t talk,” she said.
But the area code was 770. She listened to the message. The person spoke so fast, Travis said, she couldn’t understand the message.
So, Travis called back.
The person on the other end wanted to know if she had reached the Tom Shields residence. It was the Paulding County animal shelter in Dallas, Ga.
Does he have a basset hound?
“I explained we used to but somebody stole them years ago,” Travis said.
The woman said, “I have them.”
There was a long silence.
“What?” Brenda Travis said. “And then, there were a lot of tears. I finally asked, ‘Are they OK?’ She replied, ‘They are healthy and fat’”
Of the two dogs, Allie and Bama, Bama had been microchipped. When the two dogs were turned in to authorities, the animal shelter had been able to trace the dogs to Travis and Shields. Even then, Travis said, it was a miracle the shelter was able to locate the couple. Of the five numbers listed from when the dog was microchipped, only her cell number remained a working number.
“Who keeps the same cellphone number for 10 years?” she exclaimed on Sunday.
A network of friends and volunteers on Facebook quickly figured out how to shuttle the dogs nearly 1,000 miles across the country to reunite them with their owners, calling it “Operation Sweet Allie-Bama.”
The dogs and Travis and Shields were reunited Saturday.
“As soon as they saw us, they came running up,” Travis said.
Bama, age 8, rolled on his back for Shields to scratch his belly. Allie, age 7, crawled into Travis’ lap.