FORT MYERS, Fla. — A family who just moved back to Southwest Florida had given up on ever seeing their dog again after he was stolen hundreds of miles away.

His family has been waiting years to see their beloved dog, Zion, again. They waited so long that they even started searched for a new dog to join their family to help fill the void he left behind.

But a coincidental online search is what got Zion back home.

“Zion came to us through another rescue locally,” Shannon Palzer, the shelter manager at Gulf Coast Humane Society, said.

For more than 300 days, Zion called the shelter ‘home.’

“He was adopted out a few times, but it just wasn’t the right fit for him,” Palzer said.

In a crazy twist of fate, Zion did find his forever home with a very familiar family.

“Last week somebody came in and was calling and saying that that’s their dog,” Palzer said.

That person was Cherrie Terry, Zion’s first owner.

“He was a great dog, we raised him since he was a baby,” Terry said.

Terry and her family had been searching for Zion for three years after he was stolen from them in Miami.

“My mom called every place, everywhere,” Terry said. “At one point, we just kind of gave up and that’s when I started looking for a whole new dog.”

That’s what led Terry to the Gulf Coast Humane Society’s website after she and her family moved to Lehigh Acres.

“I saw him and I was like, ‘that looks exactly like my dog,’” she said.

They checked Zion’s microchip just to be sure and it was a match. And so, after three years apart — Zion is a little bigger, older and mysteriously missing one foot, and finally returned home.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crying because I think we all were,” Palzer said.

Palzer said that this story is a reminder of how important it is to get your pets microchipped, so your pet can be returned safely if they ever go missing.

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