June 14 (UPI) -- A Wyoming family reunited in Sioux Falls, S.D., with their red heeler dog, Ginger, who went missing three years ago in Iowa.
The family lost the dog while Jennifer George's husband, BJ George, was on a business trip in Burlington, Iowa, in August 2015. Jennifer George, who accompanied her husband on the trip, didn't want to leave the dog in a kennel for the trip, so she took Ginger with her. The red heeler escaped from the house the family rented.
The couple spent 15 minutes looking for the dog in the neighborhood, and Jennifer George stayed behind for days continuing to search for the dog with help from the community.
They didn't reunited with Ginger until last week when Kandi Glick, director of the Des Moines County Humane Society, started getting calls from people who said they spotted "a deceased dog," which she couldn't find because the dog was actually still alive.
She rescued the dog by setting up a trap with hot dogs and browsed through missing pets on Facebook to find the dog owner's phone number.
"I actually made a phone call to the husband and said, 'Hey, were you in Burlington, Iowa, about three years ago, this is going to be the weirdest phone call you ever get,'" Glick told KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls.
Glick said the dog managed to survive by digging in the trash for food and water from a car wash.
Veterinarian Heath Hillyard told the Hawk Eye newspaper that the dog was heavily matted, had a few ticks, and needed shaving, but otherwise was in remarkably good condition for living in the woods for three years. The animal shelter also said Ginger needed to be treated for heart worms.
Though the dog had aged, after a trip to the groomer the initially skeptical family identified the dog with its purple and lime green collar on the inside, and drove 8 hours through a hail storm on Wednesday for the reunion. Click drove halfway to meet the family in Sioux Falls.
"She's just an angel," George told KSFY-TV regarding Glick. "What she does ...is she reunites families and she gave us back this dog that meant so much to us and without her people wouldn't have these moments."