Dog missing from Georgia since 2017 found in Wayne County

The owner says she was overcome with emotion after getting the call she'd been waiting years for. (Source: WSAZ)
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 11:45 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A pit bull named Chief who’d been missing since 2017 was found far from home.

His owner, Tara Hillis, lives near Atlanta. She says Chief disappeared from her property when he was 1-and-a-half years old.

“He either jumped the fence or dug under it,” Hillis said.

Weeks turned into months and then into years with no word on his whereabouts.

“I honestly thought I’d never see him again,” Hillis said. “Initially, I thought maybe someone took him to try to breed him, but he’s fixed. So many years go by, you just really miss him.”

A couple people say they found Chief Saturday alone, wandering at East Lynn Lake in Wayne County. They brought him to the Huntington-Cabell-Wayne Animal Control Shelter.

Rachel Boone is the K-9 behavior specialist at the shelter and says Chief is healthy and friendly.

“He’s just a big baby,” Boone said.

Workers at the shelter were able to find Hillis’s contact information, thanks to a chip she’d had put in him.

Hillis says she was overwhelmed with emotion when she was contacted by the shelter and told Chief had been found.

“I can’t believe this,” Hillis said. “This is insane. Every time I’d talk about it that day, I’d get chill bumps.”

“If I think about my dog missing that long, it makes me want to cry,” Boone said. “I already want to cry for her.”

Hillis says she expects she’ll become quite emotional when she gets to hold him again, and she’s praying he remembers her.

Hillis says they’re still ironing out the details of how Chief will get back home. She says someone from the shelter has offered to drive him halfway there to her friend’s house. That may happen Monday.