INDIANAPOLIS - A microchip and the kindness of strangers helped get a thought-to-be stray dog back to its home.
On Saturday, Theresa Hobson and her son picked up Ella, a family pet, from the Humane Society of Hamilton County. The dog had gone missing three years ago, in early June of 2014.
"I left food out there through the winter," said Hobson, who always hoped her missing dog would show up at the front door again one day. "I was afraid. I didn't want her to be out in the cold."
Hobson and her family, who live near West 86th Street and Ditch Road, spent a few months searching nearby fields and woods looking for any signs of Ella.
"She's always been very skittish," Hobson said.
It was likely why Ella was gone for so long. No one knows exactly where Ella's journey took her over the last three years, but the people who work at Butler Toyota, near East 96th Street and Keystone Avenue, started seeing the dog nearly two and a half years ago.
"Everyone wanted to try helping it," said Mike McGinness, one of the dealership employees who had helped get the dog by over the last couple dozen months.
The dealership is nearly six miles away from the Hobson's home.
"It wouldn't come close to us," McGinness said. "We wanted it to come close so we could help the dog."
At first, workers there didn't see the dog too much. Ella had a tree line behind the dealership where she could hide from everyone. Occasionally, workers would see Ella walking along a busy Keystone Avenue.
"If you got close at all, within 50 feet, it took off and ran," McGinness said.
According to McGinness, nearly a year ago he and his co-workers noticed Ella had a limp when she walked.
"That's when we really started looking for ways to get her and get her help," he said.
Mindy Butler, the wife of the dealership's owner, asked for help. The humane society put the dealership in touch with Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside (FIDO). The organization was able to set up a cage and eventually lured Ella into it.
Ella was finally captured on Friday and thanks to microchipping, the humane society was able to contact the Hobson family late that night.
“She looks good," Hobson said about her once lost dog. "I’m so thankful for the people at Butler. They took good care of her.”
McGinness and other Butler Toyota employees had been feeding Ella since she showed up and might have actually gained weight since she got loose in the summer of 2014.
Hobson said Ella will see her regular veterinarian this week to get a much overdo checkup.
The Humane Society of Hamilton County executive director Rebecca Stevens said Ella's story is a reminder of how a microchip can connect families with their lost pets. She added pet owners should update their contact information every time they move, as there are times an animal is found but the family cannot be located.
The Humane Society is holding a pet adoption promotion on June 16 - 18. The event runs from noon - 5 p.m. each day. Any animal that has been at the Humane Society's shelter in Noblesville for longer than two months can be adopted for only $15.