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Valley News Dispatch

Declared dead, Washington Twp. family's black Lab found alive after 10 years

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, 10:15 p.m.
Debra Suierveld, of Washington Township, was reunited with her dog, Abby, after 10 years on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 at Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley in New Kensington. Abby had gone missing a decade ago from Washington Township and was found on a porch Saturday in Lower Burrell.
Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
Debra Suierveld, of Washington Township, was reunited with her dog, Abby, after 10 years on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 at Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley in New Kensington. Abby had gone missing a decade ago from Washington Township and was found on a porch Saturday in Lower Burrell.
Jody Berisko, an employee at Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley gets a kiss from Abby, who was found last week. She was reunited with her Washington Township owners after about 10 years. Jan. 30, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Jody Berisko, an employee at Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley gets a kiss from Abby, who was found last week. She was reunited with her Washington Township owners after about 10 years. Jan. 30, 2018.
Abby looks up while waiting for the arrival of her owner at Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley on Jan. 30, 2018.  She was reunited with her Washington Township owners after about 10 years.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Abby looks up while waiting for the arrival of her owner at Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley on Jan. 30, 2018. She was reunited with her Washington Township owners after about 10 years.
Abby looks up while waiting for the arrival of her owner at Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley on Jan. 30, 2018. She was reunited with her Washington Township owners after about 10 years.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Abby looks up while waiting for the arrival of her owner at Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley on Jan. 30, 2018. She was reunited with her Washington Township owners after about 10 years.

Abby was dead.

Ten years ago, the year-old black lab mix was playing with the kids outside Debra Suierveld's Washington Township home and wandered off.

They looked for her, but she was gone.

Abby was declared deceased.

On Saturday, Suierveld got a call from Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley. They said they had her dog.

Couldn't be, she said. Her two dogs were right there with her, including Cedona — her black lab mix.

Then they said her name: Abby.

“I didn't even know what to say,” Suierveld said. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Suierveld took Abby home from Animal Protectors in New Kensington on Tuesday night, back to the same home she had disappeared from a decade ago.

“She kind of came back from the dead,” Suierveld said. Then, turning to Abby, she said, “We mourned you.”

Abby surfaced Saturday on Judy Spiering's porch on Wildlife Lodge Road in Lower Burrell.

The dog didn't want any food, but drank a lot of water, Spiering said.

“The dog seemed friendly.”

The Spierings contacted police, who contacted Animal Protectors. She came into the shelter Saturday afternoon, medical manager Jody Berisko said.

From her condition, Abby was not on her own all those years, Berisko said.

“She was in very good shape,” she said. “She's happy. She's a good weight. She's very well taken care of.

“It's very weird.”

It's not known where Abby has been all this time. She's an old dog now, with some gray on her snout, and has some fatty tumors that Berisko said are common for her age.

The guess is she had a home and was cared for.

But there haven't been any recent missing reports for a dog like Abby.

“They took good care of her,” Suierveld said. But, “Whatever they called you, it was wrong.”

Microchip aids discovery

A microchip Suierveld had put in the scruff of Abby's neck all those years ago led to the reunion. Berisko said they routinely check for chips.

Scanning the chip brought up its maker, HomeAgain, and a number. HomeAgain gave Berisko the contact information they had for Suierveld and the veterinarian who had put in the chip.

Suierveld's old phone number didn't work, but the veterinarian had her current information.

“They actually had the pet listed as deceased,” Berisko said. “They thought I was crazy.”

While the microchip brought Abby back, Suierveld said she was sour about it for a long time, since Abby went missing and hadn't been found.

“For years I was like, ‘Why did I chip her?' ” she said, adding that her opinion is different now.

Suierveld said they had rescued Abby from the Greensburg Humane Society. She had belonged to her daughter, Carly.

Suierveld called her daughter, now 22 and a student at Miami University in Ohio, about Abby's return: “She cried.”

“My kids all want to know if she answers to her name,” Suierveld said.

She does.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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