DUNDALK, Md. — A dog found in Baltimore hundreds of miles from his home made his way back to his family all because the animal rescue community came together.
"They got him home to me and as you see he has not left my side," said owner Sheila Salazar.
A neighbor found the dog Nigel roaming a Dundalk alley on September 1. The next morning, community rescuer Leah Biddinger used her handheld scanner to check him for a microchip and got a match... but the catch, the owner lived in North Carolina.
She got a hold of Salazar who said her dog Nigel was stolen from her Fayetteville neighborhood a few days prior.
"Then it was kind of like what do we do," said Biddinger.
Biddinger knew she had to get Nigel home. He stayed at the grooming and boarding facility Dog E. Stylz in Essex while they reached out to Amelia Air, an organization that usually saves animals from high kill shelters and flies them to rescues who can find them homes.
"They get animals in bad situations back into good situations. They are an amazing organization," said Biddinger.
But when they heard this story, they knew they wanted to help. Two Virginia-based pilot volunteered to fly Nigel home and Sunday, he made the trip, first class of course.
"It was good to see him go home. He was happy. He snuggled in my lap the whole flight," pilot Jordan Mccarthy. "I know I would be devastated if one of my fur babies disappeared so it was definitely a moving thing to help."
Salazar, who just adopted Nigel from a shelter in May, was extremely grateful, especially because it’s not the first dog that’s been stolen from her, but it’s the first happy ending.
"To fight with me and help me get him home, I'm grateful. Like no words can even…" said Salazar.
"Knowing the rescue community was able to come together and make this happen is overwhelming. I’m still in awe of what happened," said Biddinger.
Biddinger is constantly working to reconnect stray dogs with their families and recommends all pet owners make sure their chip information is up to date.
Amelia Air is a Virginia non profit with a goal to save at least 500 animals each year by flying them off death row to rescues who place them with loving forever families.