ESPANOLA (KRQE) - A family in Kentucky is about to be reunited with their pet – 18 months after she went missing.
Puka, a dachshund-Chihuahua mix was found wandering the streets of Española last week.
Thanks to the efforts of a Good Samaritan, and the power of a microchip – she's about to go home.
Mandi Smith couldn't believe the voicemail she received a few days ago: her missing puppy had been found 1,200 miles away.
"I was in shock about it completely," Smith said. "I had to listen to the voicemail a few times before I believed they'd actually found her."
Puka disappeared from the yard of the Smith family's military housing in Fort Campbell in June 2011.
"I went door-to-door and posted ads and everything that day, and I looked for her about a month," she said. "I just assumed she got eaten by something or hit."
Somehow, in the year and a half since then, Puka made her way from Fort Campbell to Española.
A woman found Puka wandering the streets and took her into to the Española Humane Society.
Most strays that come in don't have microchips, but Puka did.
"When I got a hold of the person I said, 'You're not going to believe this, but bear with me. I promise I'm not trying to tell you something,'" said Nina Stively of the Española Humane Society. "The first thing she asked as a great pet owner is, ‘Is she OK? Is she healthy, happy, OK?"
"I said ‘Yeah, she's fine. She's probably wondering where the heck she is.'"
Puka is happy and healthy with a foster mom waiting to be reunited with the Smith family.
No one knows where Puka has been or how she got to Española.
She appears to have been taken care of well.
In fact, vets say she recently had puppies.
"I had my doubts [about microchips] when she didn't come home because that's all I was telling people. 'She's microchipped. If they find her all they have to do is scan her,'" Smith said. "Now I'm so glad I did it."
A volunteer at the Española Humane Society heard the story and is donating her frequent-flier miles so Smith can fly out here next week to pick up Puka herself and take her back to Kentucky.
No one in Española has called the shelter looking for Puka.
However, if anyone else does try to claim her, the Humane Society says the Smith family still has legal rights to Puka because of her microchip.
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