• Florida dog lost for 19 months shows up in New York after Hurricane Irma

    By: Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post

    Updated:

    Most people in South Florida spent Tuesday cleaning up after Hurricane Irma. Many had no power and were sweaty, tired and dirty. For most, it was a pretty lousy day.

    Not for 18-year-old Richard Moneck. He had a great day.

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    He got a call that his dog, missing for nearly a year and a half, almost as long as he’d owned her, had been found. The animal had been linked back to him by a microchip.

    But Relay wasn’t found around the corner from the Monecks’ suburban home.

    “They said ‘Freeport, New York,’” Richard said Saturday night. “I said, ‘I hope she didn’t take a bus.’”

    How the lovable, now 3½-year-old German shepherd/Jack Russell terrier mix wound up in the Long Island town, just a few miles from Queens and 1,200 miles from her home, might never be known.

    Richard and his parents don’t care that much. They’re just looking forward to getting the dog back.

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    “I was ecstatic,” Richard said. “I never thought I’d see the dog again.”

    Bobbi Giordano, who runs the Bobbi and the Strays shelter in Freeport, said she’s reunited pets with owners many times. But not like this.

    “Wasn’t it a miracle?” she said Saturday night from Long Island. “We’ve been crying all day.”

    Richard’s father, Rick Moneck, said that in early 2014, the teen had spotted the dog at a nearby warehouse and “fell in love.” The proprietor said the animal, believed to be about 6 months old, had shown up two weeks earlier.

    The Monecks checked every pound and animal shelter for two weeks. No one claimed her. So the Monecks adopted her. And called her Relay.

    “Richard and her were inseparable,” Rick Moneck said. “Richard would sleep with the dog.”

    Young Richard is now a plumber’s apprentice. Then, though just 16, he already had a lawn-mowing business and a power-washing gig, and he paid out of his own pocket for a microchip.

    On Feb. 1, 2016, Rick had moved some concrete blocks around in his backyard, and that inadvertently left an opening for Relay to get out. The Monecks spent six hours searching. Richard made up fliers. At a nearby service station, the owner said that, yes, he’d seen a dog that looked like this. He looked at his security video. There was Relay, appearing to get into a van.

    Two weeks went by. Nothing. Six months went by. Nothing. Hope waned.

    Rick recalled that “I said, ‘Richard, I think you’re going to find your dog. I don’t know if it’s going to be alive.’”

    What made Rick so confident was that microchip.

    But, Rick said, “A year and three-quarters goes by. And nothing.”

    Then came Irma. On Sept. 9, the storm’s outer bands pounded Palm Beach County. The Monecks lost power. Things were stressful. When the phone rang, Richard thought it was one of the many storm-related scams. It wasn’t.

    Giordano said a girl had brought Relay to her shelter. The girl claimed she’d found it on the streets and had brought into in her apartment for a few days until her landlord gave her an ultimatum. Giordano didn’t bother to challenge the story. She just took Relay.

    “It’s a very nice dog. Very nice dog,” Giordano said. “Lots of kisses. And likes chicken.”

    Giordano found the microchip. And called the microchip service center. Which called the Monecks in Florida. Who called Giordano. The Monecks and Giordano were able to trade photos, Rick Moneck recalled. He said there was no question. It was Relay.

    “It’s a shock. It really was,” Giordano said.”How the heck did it travel this far?”

    Dianne Sauve, who runs Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, said Saturday night via email that she hadn’t heard of the story until just then but that “it certainly proves the power of a microchip.”

    Giordano said she won’t put dogs on planes, for various reasons. So getting Relay back to South Florida has become a complication.

    But Relay is getting some help. A woman in New York saw her story in Long Island’s Newsday newspaper. Her sister in Palm Beach County is a friend of the Monecks.

    “She said, ‘That’s Rick and Dawn — that’s their dog!’” Rick Moneck said.

    Now the families are trying to work out a way for someone to drive Relay back to Florida for a reunion long in coming.

    “We are all so excited about getting this dog back, I can’t tell you,” Rick said. And Giordano said, “I’m so happy to send the dog home.”

     

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