GASTONIA, N.C. -- It’s been a long seven years waiting for a moment Kelly Accettola never even thought would happen.
But Saturday morning, she stood at a veterinarian’s office in Gastonia waiting to be reunited with her long-lost dog.
Bemis, an Italian Greyhound, had been stolen from Accettola’s fenced-in yard at a military base in Virginia, where her husband served in the Navy, in 2010. He was just two years old.
Accettola knew something was wrong when Bemis didn’t scratch at the door to come in a few minutes after being let out.
“I went out to the back yard and he wasn’t there,” said Accettola. “It was just like he vanished without a trace.”
She spent months looking, even bundling up her infant daughter for strolls around the neighborhood and nearby streets.
As she and her husband were transferred around the country, Accettola kept the same phone number hoping someone would find Bemis and call her. They never did.
She finally gave up and changed her number when they landed in San Diego.
“Come to find out,” she said, “even changing your phone number can’t stop fate from happening.”
That’s because this week, a letter from the American Kennel Club arrived at Accettola’s mother-in-law’s house. It’s the address Accettola had used to register Bemis’s microchip -- but she had forgotten that.
Bemis had been found wandering in Gastonia.
Tracy Tucker had picked him up along the side of a road as she made her rounds as a courier.
“I just opened up the car door and he jumped right in and rode around with me at work that day,” said Tucker.
Tucker was also an animal lover, often sharing pictures of rescue animals on social media to find them homes. She took Bemis to a vet that scanned his microchip and found the registration.
The phone number no longer worked.
So the Animal Kennel Club tried something they rarely have to do these days – they sent the letter.
Accettola’s mother-in-law got the letter Monday, and called Accettola. Friday, Accettola took a plane from San Diego to Charlotte for the reunion.
“Hi baby!” she cried as she snuggled her long-lost pup.
Bemis sniffed the TV cameras and came right back.
“You’re a star aren’t you?” she laughed through the tears.
No one knows where Bemis has been these last seven years, but to Accettola, it only matters where he is now.
“This is the most amazing miracle,” she said, beaming. “And I think right now people really need to see miracles.”
For that reason, she chose to share the happy reunion with others.
“This is a blessing,” she said, “and I really think this is going to be helpful for getting people to believe and have hope again.”