EXCLUSIVE: Lost Sarasota dog found over 500 miles away in Atlanta

Posted at 12:32 AM, Jul 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-27 00:32:00-04

SARASOTA, Fla. -- For about a month, the Epstein family of Sarasota looked and looked for their lost 3 1/2-year-old Miniature Australian Shepherd, Abby.

 She disappeared from their home on July 3rd, after being spooked by fireworks.

"When she wasn't there, it was like the house wasn't happy anymore," said Maddie Epstein.

The Epstein's spent a lot of time and money trying to find their dog. They placed posters all around the Suncoast, set up the website, and tried raising awareness by singing and playing the guitar on St. Armands Circle with a giant Lost Dog sign behind them.

The family received lots of tips on sightings, but none of them were Abby.

"The hardest part is not knowing. Getting your hopes up when a lead comes in and aggressively searching every square inch of the area that someone thought they may have seen her," said Michael Epstein.

Just when hope was beginning to dwindle, Michael received a phone call this past Saturday from the Fulton County Animal Shelter in Atlanta. Abby had been found. The shelter said a jogger had spotted Abby wandering around Chastain Park. She took the dog to the shelter, where volunteers located her microchip.

"I just wanted to drop everything right there and take off for Atlanta," said Micahel.

Michael and Maddie drove up to Atlanta, where they saw Abby for the first time in more than three weeks.

"I collapsed when I saw her," said Maddie.

"For me, just seeing her was everyday tomes 100," said Michael.

We will probably never know why and how Abby ended up in Atlanta, but Michael believes she was stolen. He stresses the importance of having your dog microchipped, even if they do wear a collar with their identification. Abby was wearing hers when she disappeared, but it wasn't around her neck when she was found.

For a full report on Abby, and to see the video of the reunion, be sure to tune in to ABC 7 News on Monday.