GALVESTON — The last time JoeAnn Navarro saw her pit bull, Blue, was in May.
So on Saturday, when Blue was to make her return to Galveston, Navarro was at the Galveston Island Humane Society two hours before the dog’s expected arrival.
When Blue finally jumped out of Ricky Mitchell’s pickup truck, Navarro broke into tears and hugged Mitchell.
“I feel great,” Navarro said as she petted an excited Blue. “I just can’t believe it.”
Blue was just a few weeks old in May when she disappeared from Navarro’s Galveston backyard. Navarro suspects Blue and another pit bull named Maggie were stolen.
Thanks to a microchip Navarro had implanted in Blue, the Kokomo Humane Society Shelter, 1,100 miles away in Indiana, was able to track her down last week.
But while she finally knew where one of her dogs was, Navarro did not have the means to go and bring her back.
That’s when Mitchell, a retired Galveston County Sheriff’s Office deputy, stepped in.
After reading about Navarro and Blue in The Daily News Mitchell volunteered to go to Kokomo and bring Blue home.
Mitchell, along with Bill Russell and Bob Stanton, drove to Indiana, picked Blue up and drove straight back to Galveston. Along with stops to fuel up and let Blue out, Mitchell said they made one other stop on the way home.
They ran into a snowstorm in Lewisville, Kentucky, Mitchell said.
“We got out and played in it because we don’t get snow down here,” he said. “Blue, she loved it.”
Mitchell said he couldn’t completely explain why he decided to help. He said he read about Blue and knew he wanted to do something.
“I’d want someone to do it if my dog was in trouble like that and I didn’t have the funds,” he said.
It was all worth it when he got a hug from Navarro, Mitchell said. And he plans to keep in touch with Blue and Navarro.
“She promised me I could come visit,” Mitchell said.
Blue’s story has also inspired many others to lend a helping hand. About $1,500 has been donated to Galveston Island Humane Society, said Caroline Dorsett-Pate, manager of the Galveston shelter.
She said Mitchell did not want the money for the trip but she would try to at least pay for their hotel stays.
Some of the money will also go to pay for a dog training class for Navarro and Blue, Dorsett-Pate said.
Navarro said she’ll continue to look for her other dog, Maggie, but for now is grateful for all the help she received from the two shelters, from local media outlets and from Mitchell.
“I’m so thankful and grateful for everything everyone has done,” Navarro said.