GALVESTON — “We busted Ole Blue out of jail. Homeward bound,” the text from Ricky Mitchell read.
With that, the journey home began for a Galveston pit bull that went missing eight months ago only to be found at an Indiana animal shelter. Blue is scheduled to be home this afternoon for a reunion with her owner, JoeAnn Navarro.
Blue was just a few weeks old in May when she disappeared from Navarro’s Galveston backyard. Navarro believes Blue and another pit bull named Maggie were stolen.
For weeks, Navarro searched for her missing dog, to no avail. Then a phone call earlier this month from the Kokomo, Indiana Humane Society Shelter brought a smile to Navarro’s face.
Thanks to a microchip that Navarro had implanted in Blue, the shelter 1,100 miles away was able to track down its owner. The rub was that Navarro, 61, didn’t have the funds to retrieve Blue.
But after a story in The Daily News, dozens of people offered to help. Among the first to offer to bring Blue home was Mitchell, a retired Galveston County Sheriff’s Office deputy who called the newspaper’s article “divine intervention.”
So on Wednesday, Mitchell, his brother Bill Russell and fellow sheriff’s office retiree Bobby Stanton took off for Indiana.
The men posted photos of the state signs they passed along the way. At about 1:15 p.m. Friday, Mitchell sent a photo of himself with Russell standing under the “Welcome to Indiana sign.”
Soon after they were in Kokomo.
“We loaded (Blue) in the truck, and when I went to go finish up the paperwork, she barked at me as if to say, ‘Let’s get going before (the shelter) changes its mind,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell sounded as emotional as his newfound friend.
“She’s a beautiful dog,” Mitchell said, his voice breaking with emotion. “Just beautiful and so sweet.”
Mitchell said he and his fellow rescuers would drive through the night to get Blue home today. He said the drive should take about 20 hours and the entourage should arrive at the Galveston Island Humane Society about 1 p.m. today.
Navarro can’t wait.
“I’m so happy I can’t express how grateful I am,” she said. “I’ll be so excited so see my girl home.”
It will be more than a reunion with her dog. It will also be the first in-person meeting between Navarro and Mitchell.
The two just missed each other Tuesday when Mitchell picked up a crate and paperwork at the Galveston shelter.