Social media helps reunite family with missing puppy

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GRAND HAVEN, Mich. -- The Lubke family is overjoyed with the return of their beloved puppy Patches after her nine-week adventure away from home ended with a reunion with the family.

Mary Lubke of Grand Haven owns three dogs, and she said they're members of her family, which is why she was devastated to find two of them missing in late June.

"When I got home, I opened up the slider to call for Patches, Izzy, and Bear," said Lubke. "Bear was the only one in the backyard."

Izzy was quickly found, but Patches, a pit bull puppy, was nowhere to be seen.  Mary and her son, Adam Wilson, did everything they could to find the dog. They posted flyers and asked friends and family to search high and low. Three weeks passed, and there was still no sign of the puppy.

"About a month after she went missing, there was a fuzzy picture of her in the lost and found website of the Norton Shores area," said Wilson.

That sighting was more than 25 miles from home, south of Grand Haven. That led to weeks of Facebook messages and reports of people spotting Patches in areas like Muskegon Heights.

Animal Control DeputyTiffany Peterson had been seeing a dog with the same description for some time before she got in touch with Wilson and Lubke. "And the dog kept popping up, and I kept looking at the picture," said Peterson. "The next time I saw her, I started calling her by her name, and she kind of looked at me and I thought, Okay maybe."

Deputy Peterson set a live trap near one of Patches' reported sightings. And after nine weeks of searching, Peterson caught Patches and returned her safely to Lubke.

"Nine weeks is a long time, and it is kind of weird," said Peterson. "From Grand Haven to Muskegon, How the heck?"

Lubke's son called her with the good news on September 24, a moment she'll never forget.

"I took one look and I started bawling," said Lubke. "I was so happy to see her, I didn’t think I would ever see her again."

When Patches was found she was wearing a choke collar, something Mary never put on her dog. So Animal Control believes Patches was picked up by a stranger for breeding, and when they discovered she was spayed, they got rid of her.

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