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Missing Florida dog found in New Jersey three years later

By
Daniel Uria

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A missing Maltese Pomeranian mix from Florida was reunited with her owner after turning up in New Jersey three years later.

Bill Gerstein of Fort Lauderdale shared a photo with his newly found dog, Bella, to a Facebook page dedicated to finding the beloved pet.

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"Almost three years later, miracles do really happen," a post on the Facebook page said. "Bella was turned in as a stray in New Jersey. Will be returning home shortly."

Gerstein told North Jersey News Bella disappeared while playing outside of his law office in Dec. 2013.

"It was a Friday the 13th," he said. "I remember that. She would go out back and then come back in when she was done outside, and that day, I was distracted. I went back inside, realized about an hour later, 'Oh my God, where's the dog?' So I went out back with my partner and other merchants from the area, and there was just no sign of her."

Almost three years later Ashley Abregu found the missing dog wandering around in poor condition with knotted fur and covered in dirt.

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"I found her by herself rolling in dirt near my house so I took her with me and she was just a sweetheart. I wanted to keep her until we found the owners but unfortunately where I live there is a no pet policy," she said. "She looked as if who ever took her was not taking good care of her, she was very knotty and dirty."

Abregu brought Bella to Paterson Animal Shelter in New Jersey where her microchip helped them get into contact with Gerstein.

"We found out that the dog was stolen from Fort Lauderdale and the lawyer that owned the dog called his friend in Fair Lawn that picked the dog up and took her to the groomer," Animal Control officer John DeCando said.

Gerstein was ultimately reunited with his beloved Bella and said after a brief adjustment period she quickly became part of the family again.

"They had her in a crate, and when I got there and got to see her she was shaking and kissing me for like 10 minutes," he said. "She was a bit shaken, but she's right back in the swing of things now. She recognized everyone, and now the kids fight over whose bed she will sleep in."

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