Eight years ago, LaShena Harris brought Fatcat, her two-year-old female English Bulldog, outside her Memphis, Tennessee home and then quickly slipped back inside to fetch the dog's new collar from inside the house. Though she was only gone a few minutes, by the time she came back out there was no trace of Fatcat.
"I knew in my heart she was gone," said Harris.
Harris made every attempt she could to find Fatcat, including putting up signs promising a reward for the dog's safe return. But any hope she had of finding Fatcat eventually faded as she moved back to Arizona a few months afterwards.
Eight years later, Harris was at work when she received a call from her mother. Fatcat had been identified by her microchip, and Harris' mother, whose information was stored on the chip, had been contacted after a couple surrendered the dog to the West Memphis Animal Shelter. Harris called the shelter immediately after the call from her mother.
"I think I have your dog," said the staff member that answered Harris' call.
Harris said she burst in to tears and a coworker asked if she was okay. When Harris responded that a shelter had found her dog, her coworker apologized, assuming that the news was bad. Harris quickly corrected the misunderstanding, saying, "No, I haven't seen her in eight years!"
But there were two problems standing in the way of a reunion: First, Fatcat was no longer the healthy two-year-old that Harris remembered; she was almost 11 years old, had heartworm, bad teeth, and had been bred multiple times. Second, Fatcat was still in Tennessee, while Harris was in Arizona.
According to an airline representative that Harris knew, Fatcat would be too big to sit on a plane with her and would likely need to be in the cargo hold, which could have been dangerous for a dog in Fatcat's condition. Unfortunately, driving wasn't an option for Harris either, and after speaking with a shelter staff member regarding her health and situation, considered putting the dog down.
Thankfully, Harris decided against it.
Not long after, a shelter staff member called Harris, asking her if she lived closed to Scottsdale. The staff member knew friends moving from Tennessee to Arizona, close to Harris' home, who agreed to drive Fatcat with them. Two days later, Harris and Fatcat were finally reunited after 8 years apart.
"I just broke down in tears because I never thought I'd see her again," said Harris.
Thanks to online donations of over $6500 so far, Fatcat has been receiving the medical attention she needs now that she's back home.