It’s a story that comes out of a dog lover’s worst nightmares, but ends with a loving family finally connecting with the pup they were fated to have.
Their Paths Cross
In April, Theo, a tw0-year-old mixed-breed with the sweet face of a Pit Bull, was wandering the streets of Miami, Florida. When Ashley Tirado and her vacationing family opened the door to their SUV, Theo hopped in without hesitation.
“He chose us,” Ashley said. “He hopped right into our car. He cuddled with us all night until the shelters were open where we could drop him off.”
The Tirados decided on the spot to adopt the dog. But since he needed medical care (among other injuries, it appeared Theo had been stabbed in the eye with a stick), they took him to the local shelter for care. There, they also put him on hold so they could adopt him. When nobody claimed him, he became the Tirados’.
The plan was for the family to return to New Jersey, where a pet courier would deliver Theo to his forever home.
Sadly, those plans went out the window when the van carrying Theo ran off the road and flipped over in a dangerous part of the Everglades. When first responders showed up and opened the door, Theo fearfully bolted into the alligator-infested swamps.
Having a pet run away from the scene of a vehicle accident is already a nightmare, but hearing that Theo was lost in the Everglades was especially distressing for the Tirados.
A Dangerous Place
The Everglades are home to nearly 8,000 square miles of hot, wet, swampy, and dangerous land in southern Florida. Estimates suggest there are around 200,000 alligators in that area. Just a few years ago, a monster 15-foot, 800-pound gator was killed there. It is certainly not the ideal place for a pet!
A Rescue Operation
Ashley immediately posted to a lost dog Facebook group about Theo, hoping to get the word out. There, she found sympathetic animal-lovers who wound up sharing the post over 2,000 times.
And though the forecast seemed very dark for a lone dog to make it out of the depths of the swamp alive, dozens of people showed up every day to try and find him.
Miraculously, 9 days after he vanished in the muck and mire, Theo was picked up!
One of the volunteer rescuers posted this message on Theo’s Facebook group page:
“Theo IS SAFE – Thanks to His Dream Team and all of your thoughts…What a week! These gals have been out with alligators, panthers, pythons amid the thick brush day and night to get this boy to safety and he was just waiting for them! He is waiting for you Ashley!”
We don’t have the details of exactly how Theo ran into rescuers. Still, Ashley broke into tears thanking people on social media for pitching in on the effort to find the dog the Tirados had connected with so deeply a week and a half earlier, posting:
“We are so grateful for the support Theo has received through this. He is FOUND and FINALLY our tears can be tears of joy!!!”
We’re crying a little happy tear today too, Ashley. Us too.
H/T & Featured Image via Facebook/Theodore’s Journey – The Everglades Warrior