The quest to reunite owners and their missing pets has taken to social media.
Friday, a notorious dog whose been running around an industrial park in South Bend for the better part of a year was captured and given to a family whose beloved pooch Chelsea went missing three years ago.
The dog, referred to by some as "Walmart Wilma," did not have a microchip and therefore wasn't Chelsea. However, the Greer family in Elkhart has embraced the dog with open arms.
What was intended to be a reunion turned out to be an introduction, and was made possible by the Facebook group "South Bend Lost and Found Pets."
The group started about six months ago when freelance animal rescuer, Melody Heintzelman decided it was time for the South Bend area to have a page devoted to lost and missing animals.
She spotted "Walmart Wilma" for the first time eight weeks ago in the parking lot of Walmart on Portage Rd. Wilma was an illustrious runner, but was kept alive through the winter by benevolent store owners and shoppers who continued to feed her.
It was the videos and pictures posted about Wilma that launched the Facebook group and got people talking.
"She has a great following," said Heintzelman.
Facebook posts connected Walmart Wilma with the Greer family's missing dog Chelsea. Heintzelman saw a photo posted on the owner's page and sent her a message.
Over the course of a few days Heintzelman set a trap in an industrial park and hoped that someday the dog would take the bait. She did.
Thursday night Heintzelman's neice checked the trap and saw the precious pooch was inside. Word traveled to the Greer family who quickly made their way to South Bend to pick up the dog and trap, desperately hoping it would be their missing Chelsea.
"We're all on eggshells," said Heather Greer Templeton in a Facebook message. The family took the dog to a veterinarian Friday morning to see if the dog had a microchip like Chelsea.
In the end, the Greers learned the adorable dog was a look alike and not their missing pet. But it was still a happy ending: the family welcomed a new member and the dog got a home.
Heintzelman asks that if anyone sees a stray dog to find the South Bend Lost and Found Pets Facebook page, post a picture, description and contact information. In the short period the page has been active, Heintzelman said they've been able to reunite a number of owners with their animals.