A Kansas couple has been reunited with their two beloved basset hounds -- half a decade after the dogs were stolen from their yard, KPLR 11 News reports.
Earlier this month, Brenda Travis and her husband Tom Shields welcomed their basset hounds, Allie and Bama, back into their lives after a long separation.
In 2007, the dogs had been snatched from their home in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where the couple had been living at the time.
"It was just like a death in the family. We had had them for four years and they were just our babies so it was devastating," Travis told Fox News Kansas.
Distressed, the couple desperately tried to find their dogs -- calling local veterinarians, putting up posters and visiting local shelters.
However, after a futile year-long search, the couple lost hope of ever seeing their dogs again and eventually moved to Wichita, Kan.
But a few weeks ago, everything changed when Travis got a phone call from an unknown number, the Wichita Eagle reports.
It was the Paulding County animal shelter located in Dallas, Ga., and they had a pressing question.
"She said, 'Do you have basset hounds?' and I said we used to, but they were stolen five years ago," Travis told Fox News Kansas. "And she said, 'I have both of them right here.'"
Travis soon learned that Allie and Bama had been found wandering alongside a highway hundreds of miles from Tennessee in a suburb of Dallas.
The two dogs were brought to the shelter and Bama's identification micro-chip led shelter employees to Travis.
“So there was a long silence and a lot of tears and then my next question was, 'Are they okay?' She said they are healthy and they are fat,” Travis told KPLR 11 News.
According to the Wichita Eagle, a network of friends and volunteers on Facebook quickly organized a way to bring the dogs nearly 1,000 miles to reunite them with their owners.
With several volunteer drivers helping to ferry the dogs from Georgia to Missouri, "Operation Sweet Allie-Bama," as the effort was dubbed, was a huge success.
“There will be no way I’ll ever be able to say thanks enough. Someday we hope to give everyone a hug [and]…great appreciation because this is just amazing,” said Travis of the many people who stepped forward to lend a hand.
“As soon as they saw us, they came running up,” Travis said, adding that she's amazed that the canine duo has stuck together all these years.