TAMPA, Fla. — An Ybor City couple's house feels a lot more like home after they were able to reunite with their stolen dog after nearly three years.
Ines Figueroa let her dogs out in her backyard in December 2019. She ran inside to do something and when she came back out, her dog, Grace, was nowhere to be found.
Figueroa searched the neighborhood for hours trying to find Grace. The owner says she believes someone snatched her up and kept her instead of trying to return her.
Figueroa was checking her emails in July and got a message from a shelter in Kokomo, Indiana. When she called the number attached to the email, they told her someone had dropped Grace off in front of the shelter. Staff scanned her microchip and then they were able to contact Figueroa.
“I could not believe they had reached out and told me that they found Grace," Figueroa said. Figueroa says she believes whoever stole Grace in 2019 and brought her to Indiana didn't want her anymore so they decided to dump her at the shelter.
Due to personal reasons, Figueroa and her husband couldn't make the drive to Indiana. That's when an animal transportation group called the Rescue Railroad stepped in.
“I have been doing this for over 15 years," Kathy Smola said, "I have everybody set up in my contact list as name, city, state."
Smola says it took 16 volunteers to get Grace from Indiana to Tampa. Figueroa now has each volunteer's name framed above Grace's cage.
“They brought her to my door and that is something you really have to be grateful for," she said.