A stolen Chihuahua named Stinky is back in her home in South St. Louis after six years of tumultuous travels.
After hearing a gunshot on Memorial Day weekend 2005, the 8-year-old pooch ran off relatives’ property in Edwardsville, Ill. into the woods and made her way into the middle of Highway 143. Vehicles pulled over to keep from hitting the dog.
One driver, described by witnesses as a blonde woman in a white Dodge Durango, did more than pull over. She picked the dog up and put her in the window of her car.
A witness told the dog’s owner, Amy Meley, that this woman said, ‘Oh, she’s so cute, I might just keep her.’”
And she did.
Meley was heartbroken. Someone had stolen the beloved dog she had rescued from a Chicago shelter.
Fliers, newspaper ads, online posts, visits to vet offices and to animal control in two counties, even bugging the police, turned up nothing.
Six years later, Meley has four pit bulls, all rescued animals, and she is a volunteer at Stray Rescue. Stinky, long gone, was ever present at the same time. Meley kept Stinky’s bed, clothes, and toys, all in hope that one day she would return.
On a Sunday last month, my husband and I were driving home in North St. Louis County when I noticed what appeared to be a weird-looking squirrel foraging from a yellow food wrapper. Upon closer approach, the squirrel turned out to be a scraggly-haired Chihuahua.
The dog seemed oblivious to being only a few feet from a well-traveled road with fast-moving cars. I was concerned the dog would get hit by a car.
My husband, Cardell Jordan, was concerned a hawk or something could swoop down and gobble up this tiny animal.
We turned around to grab this pooch out of harm’s way and get it back into the yard or house it escaped from –in one of the nearby subdivisions, or so we thought.
“I called her, and she turned around and she started coming to me, like she was really needing some help,” Cardell said. “She let me pick her up and I brought her back here.”
The dog was nearly all skin and bones.
“She was really shaking like she did not have a lot of balance,” he said.
She had no collar, so our best hope was that she had a microchip that could identify her owner.
The starving dog may have been on its last leg, because her eyes were red and she seemed very weak. She and ate and drank everything we put in front of her.
She slept on a towel inside a crate borrowed from our little dog, who kept returning to the crate to check on the visitor’s well being.
Our daughters created “Dog Found” posts on Facebook, and I searched online for any missing Chihuahuas fitting her description within 50 miles. On fidofinder.com, I found a tan female Chihuahua missing from Dunlap Lake, Ill. I thought I had a hit, until I saw that the dog, named Stinky, disappeared in 2005.
“It couldn’t be the same dog,” I thought.
That same evening, a friend visiting Meley asked her about the Chihuahua’s picture on her frig, which stood out among the pit bulls.
“That’s my original baby – that’s Stinky. Someone took her six years ago,” Meley said. “I don’t have to worry about her because Stinky is always here with me.”
That Monday after work, my husband took the dog for a free scan at St. Louis County Animal Control North. The dog had a microchip, and a message was left for the owner.
My husband and I worked on fattening the dog back up and helping her regain strength while the shelter worked on contacting the owner.
I asked my husband if the shelter said who the owner was. He said no. I asked if the shelter mentioned the dog’s name.
“Oh, yeah – it’s Stinky,” he said. “The shelter said she was reported stolen in 2005 or 6.”
Meley’s husband Riley heard the message first. When he eventually got Amy to listen to the voicemail, she thought it was a cruel wrong number mistake by animal control.
“It’s the microchip. They scanned her – it’s like a barcode,” her husband explained.
“Could they have taken her microchip out and put it in another dog?” Meley asked.
“No, they wouldn’t do that,’ he said. “You are talking crazy – it’s Stinky.’”
After several happy, tear-filled messages and conversations, Meley came to our home the next evening. Once inside, she gave both of us a big hug and we brought out her now 14-year-old little furry bundle.
“Oh, my God,” she said, as she covered her mouth.
She held out her arms.
“Stink! What’s up, girlfriend? Hi, Momma!” Meley said as she finally got to cuddle her long-lost family member. “I never, ever thought I would see her again.”
Meley sat on the floor with her dog and cried happy tears.
Stinky back home
“The pit bulls love her,” Meley texted the next day. “She slept with one of our dogs on Thursday night.”
A vet visited the next day. Although Stinky probably has lost some hearing and vision, she looked pretty good, considering everything. However, about a week later, doctors found a rip in a heart valve, and she spent a few days in doggie ICU. Meley said Stinky almost didn’t make it.
“Her doctors were great and worked really hard, and she made it through,” Meley said.
“She will have to be on medications for the rest of her life, but she is doing awesome!”
Pet vaccination tags and microchips can help animals find their way back home. For more information, St. Louis County Animal Control has advice at http://tinyurl.com/lostfoundpets.