When Florida lawyer Bill Gerstein let his dog, Bella, outside his law office in Florida to do her business, a dog lover’s nightmare came true. He turned around to answer a phone call and when he went back out to retrieve his Maltese Pomeranian mix, she was nowhere to be found.
“It was a Friday the 13th,” Gerstein told NorthJersey.com. “I remember that. She would go out back and then come back in when she was done outside, and that day, I was distracted. I went back inside, realized about an hour later, ‘Oh my God, where’s the dog?’ So I went out back with my partner and other merchants from the area, and there was just no sign of her.”
Gerstein’s family kept searching for Bella for a month or so to no avail. Luckily for Gerstein and his family, Bella was microchipped, and that microchip led Bella back to her Florida family. Last week, three years after Bella went missing, Gerstein got an email from microchip company Petkey.org stating that Bella was at Paterson Animal Control in New Jersey. After initially giving animal control the wrong chip ID number, Gerstein took a screen shot of the registration and forwarded that information to animal control, which confirmed that Gerstein was indeed the owner of the little dog. Gerstein then broke the news to his children.
“They were insane,” he told NorthJersey.com. “We texted them at school and they just couldn’t believe it. When we told our youngest – she was 3 when the dog went missing and she was still talking about it – and she was just so excited.”
Gerstein then was able to book a flight during the busiest travel week of the year, Thanksgiving break, to New Jersey. Gerstein’s business partner’s friend in New Jersey was given permission to pick the dog up from animal control, because the facility would be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Bella was taken to the groomer and cleaned up before Gerstein arrived. When Gerstein and Bella were reunited November 22, things got emotional.
“They had her in a crate, and when I got there and got to see her she was shaking and kissing me for like 10 minutes,” Gerstein said. “She was a bit shaken, but she’s right back in the swing of things now. She recognized everyone, and now the kids fight over whose bed she will sleep in.”
As for Bill Gerstein? Well, he now walks his dogs on a leash and tells folks to get their dog microchipped.