After five very long years, a thankful Tennessee couple is celebrating the safe return of their two stolen basset hounds. Brenda Travis and Tom Shields say they did everything in their power to find Allie and Bama when they were dognapped from their Murfreesboro home. They scoured local neighborhoods, called vets, put up posters…and waited. No sign of the dogs was ever found.
When more than a year passed, they mourned the loss of their companions, assuming that they would never be seen again. They moved out of state and began raising a grandson, a welcome distraction. And in time, they came to believe that their stolen dogs were either dead or unrecoverable. A phone call Wednesday proved them wrong, and they say they were wracked with disbelief when they heard that Allie and Bama were alive.
Brenda Travis didn’t answer the call. “I don’t take phone calls during the day, unless it’s nap time. With the baby, I can’t talk,” she said in an interview with the Wichita Eagle . She let the answering machine take the call.
The message was garbled, so Travis called back. It was the Paulding County animal shelter in Dallas, Ga. The person asked if she had a basset hound? “I explained we used to but somebody stole them years ago,” Travis said.
The woman said, “I have them,” followed by 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’”
The woman explained that they had tracked Travis down through a microchip implanted in Bama many years ago. When the two dogs were turned over to authorities, the animal shelter had been able to scan the chip and find information for Travis and Shields. Of five numbers included in the contact information, the only working number was Travis’ cell phone. She said it was a miracle that she had not changed it in more than a decade.
Using social media networking, friends and volunteers set up a transport network called “Operation Sweet Allie-Bama” to shuttle the dogs 1,000 miles across the country. On Saturday, Travis and Shields welcomed them home with open arms.
“As soon as they saw us, they came running,” Travis said.