SEFFNER (FOX 13) - A dog that went missing from his New York City home last May was found wandering the streets of Hillsborough County. The local family that took the husky in didn't stop until the husky, Sinatra, was back where he belonged.
"Ecstatic,” said Gabrielle Willis. “I'm just so excited, I’m happy, thankful."
When the dog disappeared from Brooklyn, the owners were devastated, but the family says they never gave up hope.
"We never stopped looking, we never stopped looking,” Lesmore Willis said.
Exactly where their pet dog went is still a mystery. Somehow, the 5-year-old made the journey south from New York to Seffner, Florida.
Rose Verrill spotted Sinata earlier this month.
"I was at my bus stop and I saw a dog coming down the road towards me,” the 13-year-old said. “I texted my mother and my sister that they should really come get him.”
The Verrills took the dog home, and were immediately determined to get Sinatra back where he belonged.
"You could just tell that this dog belonged to someone, somebody was missing this dog, he obviously had someone to go back to," Rose continued.
The details on Sinatra’s microchip weren't up to date, so the family turned to social media. Within a few days, they managed to track down the dog's owners.
"She called and said, 'I think we found the owner, and you're never going to believe who it is,'” Denise Verrill recalled.
Nearly 1,200 miles north, the Willis family was shocked by the news.
"I knew that moment it was my dog, and I was elated and it was utter joy right after," said Lesmore.
“He described the dog so perfectly, he even described a small limp that Sinatra has in his back leg,” Rose said.
After spending about 20 days in Seffner, Sinatra started his journey home Sunday night.
"We're just thankful that he got there safe, and he got back home safe," Lesmore said.
The reunion was even more significant for the Willis family because Sinatra belonged to their daughter, Zion. Tragically, the 16-year-old passed away from a gun accident not long after Sinatra ran away.
“It means everything right now. He’s a living embodiment of who she was,” said Lesmore. “They have the same tenacious attitude, she was very energetic, and he runs all over the place. So it’s like having a part of her back with us.”