GREENVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Three states, 710 miles, and a week of worry later, the Hannah family of Mansfield, Illinois is finally reunited with their beloved dog, Tess.
“Happy. Can’t believe it,” John Hannah said.
The 7-year-old Goldendoodle was inside the Hannah’s SUV when their vehicle was stolen Feb. 8 in Illinois. It was found totaled the next day in Nashville, Tennessee, but Tess wasn’t there.
John and his wife, Tammie, headed south to begin the search in the Volunteer State.
“I stayed there four days looking for her, setting out trail cameras, things like that,” he said.
The family was out of luck until Tuesday, when John found out the Greenville Alabama Animal Shelter had Tess.
“The phone just blew up. Our kids, our grandkids — she’s family,” he said.
Law enforcement in Butler County said that without the chip implanted in Tess to identify her, this reunion may never have happened.
“If you have a dog, put a chip in it,” Lt. Aaron McKee of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office said. “Because if it wasn’t for the chip, the dog would still be sitting here with no owner.”
McKee was the one who spotted Tess walking along I-65 with a man.
“We don’t let people walk on the interstate like that, so I stopped to offer help, offer assistance, find out why he was walking,” he said.
McKee found out the man had a stolen gun on him and later learned he’d also stolen a vehicle. The man, whose name has not been released, is now in custody at the Butler County Jail.
“They did their job excellent,” John said. “They got a criminal off the street, and that’s a big number two. I just want to thank everybody who helped.”
Now that Tess is back with her family, the Hannahs are glad to get her home. They said their cat, Critter, will also be happy to see her.
“She’s probably going to have a party,” John said.
This was just the latest scare for the family, who joked that Tess has nine lives. Last year, she had a lifesaving surgery for a stomach problem and was previously hit by a car.
The Hannahs said they’re grateful their dog is coming back home with them.