3-Legged Dog Reunited with Owner Almost a Year After Going Missing

Now, more than at any other time, we’re all in need of a story with a happy ending. A bit of cheer to get us through the day and put a smile on our face. The story of Athena is just that. Almost a year ago, Athena, a three-legged dog from Missouri, went missing. After her owner had all but given up hope of ever seeing her again, a little miracle happened. Athena was found. Now safely back at her home with her very happy (and very lucky) owner, Athena is living proof that at least one good thing came out of 2020.

The Story Begins

Rewind to early 2020. Dylan Summers’ dog, Athena, had just been hit by a car. Fortunately, she managed to escape with her life. After rushing her to a vet, it was discovered that one of her legs had become too badly damaged by the accident to be saved. It was decided that an amputation would be needed. Despite being a major and costly operation, Dylan knew it was the best thing for Athena. After the surgery, Dylan took Athena home. By February, she was on the road to recovery. She was still taking her postoperative medication but seemed to be adjusting well. But then, tragedy struck. After Dylan let her out in the yard for some fresh air, he returned a short while later to find the yard empty. Athena was nowhere to be seen. Speaking to St. Louis-area station KTVI FOX 2, Dylan has since recalled how he searched everywhere as he tried to find Athena. He scoured the neighborhood, posted online, and asked around the neighborhood in case anyone had spotted her. But no one came forward with any news. Athena, it seemed, had disappeared into thin air. As Dylan later recalled to People, he had suspicions that Athena had been stolen. But with nothing to confirm his suspicions, all he could do was worry.

Moving On

Month went by. Dylan kept hoping for news of Athena, but none came. By the end of the year, he’d all but given up hope of ever seeing his missing dog again. After reconciling himself to the fact that Athena had gone for good, he started to think about getting another dog. It was hard to think of replacing Athena, but he knew he could give another dog a happy home. After deciding he’d rather give a home to a dog in need than buy a puppy, he started searching the adoption pages of local shelters online.

A Massive Shock

It was while Dylan was searching through the adoption pages of his local shelters that he got the shock of his life. Buried among the other listings on the website of Gateway Pet Guardians (GPG) were pictures of a dog that looked remarkably like Athena. After studying the pictures in more detail, he became convinced it was indeed his missing pet. He called the shelter straight away. Unfortunately, it was after closing time and all the shelter’s staff had already left for the evening. Dylan left a voicemail with his details and spent the next few hours praying that someone would pick it up sooner rather than later.

An Urgent Voicemail

After he’d left his voicemail with the shelter, Dylan hung around the phone, hoping for a callback. Now he’d found Athena, he was desperate to be reunited with her as soon as he possibly could. He was in luck. Alisha Vianello, the director of Gateway Pet Guardians Program, picked up his message that same night. Delighted to hear that Athena’s original owner had come forward, Vianello immediately called him back and began putting the wheels in motion to reunite the pair.

Athena’s Rescue

According to Yahoo, the shelter had found Athena a few weeks prior. She’d been rescued along with several other dogs from the home of a man who was facing serious legal issues. Even at the time, the shelter had been curious about Athena. While the rest of the dogs she’d been found with seemed poorly cared for and unlikely to have ever seen a veterinarian in their life, Athena was different. She was healthy, spayed, and showed signs of having had life-saving surgery. Clearly, someone had once loved her enough to pay a huge amount of money to treat and care for her. What was her story? Why was she different from the rest of the dogs? After speaking to Dylan, all the pieces of the puzzle started to come together for Vianello and the rest of the shelter’s team.

The Reunion

After Athena had been rescued, the staff re-named her ‘Miss-A-Toe’ in reference to her missing leg and the fact she was rescued during the holiday season. She had already found a temporary home with a foster family. When Vianello called them to say that Athena’s original owner had been found, they were delighted. They immediately arranged a time to come to the Gateway Pet Guardians Program so everyone could meet. Dylan, of course, was thrilled to know that Athena was alive and well. After agreeing a time with her foster family to collect her from the shelter, he could barely contain his excitement at the thought of being reunited with his beloved dog. But his excitement was nothing compared to Athena’s the next day when she finally saw her owner for the first time in nearly a year. The staff at Gateway Pet Guardians Program were delighted to see the pair reunited. They snapped away on their cameras to capture the happy moment, later posting pictures of the reunion to the shelter’s Facebook page under the caption, “We’ve got quite the crazy story to start off the year!”

Back Where She Belongs

Almost one whole year after Athena went missing, she’s now back where she belongs. The pair have barely left each other’s side since. According to Dylan, Athena has already settled so well back into her home, it’s like she’s never been away at all. Overwhelmed with having his beloved dog back, Dylan is keen to extend his gratitude to Gateway Pet Guardians Program for helping with the reunion. “I am so appreciative of Gateway Pet Guardians Program for getting her home to me,” he says.

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