BOCA RATON — Penny Howard read stories online about owners being reunited with their beloved pets after being separated by years and miles.
For eight years she stared at a framed portrait of her cairn terrier named Pia and thought, “Why can’t that be me?”
That is, until she got a call from Animal Care and Control on Friday evening.
“They told me, ‘We found (Pia),’ ” Howard recalled Wednesday. “I started screaming, ‘She’s alive? She’s alive!’ ”
Pia, who was about 4 years old when she went missing in 2008, was found just one mile from Howard’s home. Pia, who is microchipped, had worms, ticks, a heart murmur, a skin infection and an eye infection, but to Howard’s shock and comfort, she was alive.
“It’s a miracle, a dream come true,” said Howard, who also has two other rescue dogs.
Howard first adopted Pia from the Tri-County Humane Society, where she’d been placed after being picked up at a junkyard.
“I’m one of those crazy people that goes to the Humane Society and gets the dogs that nobody wants,” she joked.
Pia wasn’t friendly or receptive to perspective adopters.
Eventually, Howard and Pia bonded after a year. Months later, however, a worker left the door of Howard’s home open while she was on vacation. Pia got spooked and ran off, Howard said.
“I did everything, made calls, posted posters,” Howard said. “It was a nightmare.”
Last week, Pia nipped the finger of a passerby, who called Animal Care and Control. They ran her chip and contacted Howard.
Pia was taken to Regency Veterinary Clinic in Boca Raton, where they groomed and nursed the dog to health.
Said Howard: “Now I have the chance to spoil her.”