Geoff Hoffman, a Jones, Okla.-based vet, discovered that his 3-year-old pit bull, Bridget, was missing after his home was burglarized on Dec. 20. That night, Hoffman penned a passionate plea to his Facebook followers to help him find the dog who he adopted two years ago.
“She is loved beyond definition,” he captioned Facebook photos of the grey-and-white dog wearing a Little Red Riding Hood costume and cruising in a Target shopping cart. “She is my ever-adventurous sidekick and my eternal source of joy. She is missed beyond my ability to articulate.”
**Bridget was found! Go to #BringBridgetBack for all the details!**Hello friends, today 12/20/17 my house was broken…
“I came home from work and noticed my gate and front door were open,” Hoffman, 38, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “My TV had been moved from the wall but nothing was taken, except Bridget. She comes everywhere with me, so it’s possible someone saw her and followed me home.”
After filing a police report, Hoffman, who served with the Special Ops Forces in Afghanistan for eight years went into military mode. “Sergeant Hoffman was back,” he says. “I was on a mission and told myself I would stop searching for Bridget under two conditions: She returned home or I knew with certainty that she was dead.”
During the four days Bridget went missing, Hoffman reached out to his local police and fire departments, along with City Hall, asking officials to share his story. He printed more than 100 cards featuring Bridget’s photo and advertising a “large reward” for her return and registered with missing dog websites. Hoffman also created a Facebook group with hundreds of followers, called Bring Bridget Back, in the hopes of spreading awareness for his search.
“I got messages from people in the Bahamas and England,” says Hoffman. “When I dropped off her photo at the Humane Society, a volunteer gasped and said, ‘Is this Bridget?’ The support was overwhelming.”
During Bridget’s absence, Hoffman said he was too busy and anxious to eat and his girlfriend barely slept. “Since she was awake, she would get in her car and drive all night looking for Bridget.”
Today I made over 100 cards to hand out to anyone I encounter; waiters, cashiers, random people on the street. Adorable picture on the front, stats on the back. #BringBridgetBack
On the morning of Christmas Eve, the search paid off. “My girlfriend was driving down a rural road, in below-freezing temperatures, a few miles from my house, when she saw Bridget and slammed on her brakes,” says Hoffman. “She was lying by the side of the road but when she saw my girlfriend, she started wagging her tail.”
Hoffman sped to the 24-hour vet clinic where Bridget was being examined. “I was hoping I wouldn’t get a speeding ticket,” he says.
While the dog was generally unharmed, she hadn’t eaten for days, she was dehydrated, and had blood in her stool, along with lacerations on her left leg, “It made me wonder whether someone stole her for dog fighting and either cut or tried to starve her to make her aggressive,” says Hoffman. “Bridget was also found wearing her distinctive pink, floral collar, and her leash, and my phone number was scratched off her tag — maybe the thief got spooked by all the media attention and dumped her on a random road.”
To pay for Bridget’s medical expenses, which entails ongoing rounds of antibiotics, the cost of office visits and more, a friend of Hoffman’s created a Go Fund Me account, which topped its $2,300 goal by $85 at the time of this writing. And Hoffman’s relieved followers have called the reunion a Christmas miracle and a holiday blessing.
Hoffman will use his experience to help other people find their missing pets, by maintaining Bridget’s Facebook page and sharing his search strategies, writing on his Facebook page, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude.”
He tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “The support I’ve gotten has been mindblowing.”
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