You’re on vacation and somehow, your family dog goes missing. You search and you pray and then you search some more. As the days go by with no word, your brain may tell you it’s time to give up hope—but in your heart you never do.
And sometimes that hope is rewarded.
The Battista family of New York City was on vacation in Ocean City, Maryland when their 2-year-old Boston terrier Fisher went AWOL on July 4, 2020.
The Battistas immediately blanketed the area with missing posters, barraged social media, and even got Fisher face-time on a local floating billboard.
With no leads, the family decided to remain in the area for an extended stay. They hired a tracker and even went so far as consulting with an “animal communicator” in hopes of tapping into Fisher’s whereabouts using doggy ESP—all to no avail.
The family also set up a #findfisher Facebook page, which quickly gathered 8,000 followers, and launched an online fundraiser to raise awareness and aid them in their efforts to bring their beloved fur baby home.
“We’ve alerted Ocean City police, fire, beach patrol, postal service, Scopes, lifeguards—you name it!” Matthew Battista wrote to Fisher’s GoFundMe page.
“Signs have been posted from the inlet to 77th St, and we have extended our canvassing to the nearby Delaware beaches of Fenwick, Bethany, Dewey, and Reheboth. We’ve extended our stay in Ocean City and arranged to bring in a professional dog tracker, in addition to making continuous searching trips in car, on foot, and on bike.”
Although they eventually were forced to return home to New York minus Fisher, the Battistas refused to give up. But even with the massive media blitz, it seemed Fisher had pulled a full-on Houdini.
Undaunted, the Battistas kept the wheels of the Internet grapevine turning, refusing to let the details of Fisher’s disappearance be forgotten. As a result, Fisher became something of a media darling in absentia.
And that’s surely part of the reason the Battistas’ perseverance paid off.
On April 20, 2021, 290 days after Fisher made his unauthorized Independence Day exit, Baltimore City resident Wayne Horn was performing maintenance on his motorcycle when he noticed a stray dog in the road.
“I called him over because cars speed up and down my road,” Horn told Delaware Online. “He came over to me, so we gave him water. He laid down and was content, he didn’t want to leave.”
When a friend of Horn’s posted pix of the found pooch to Facebook the responses of “That’s Fisher!” came back faster than a boomerang.
Although the findings were later confirmed by a micro-ship scan, Elissa Battista recognized Fisher immediately. “From the moment I saw the photos I knew it was him from the markings and his little tongue sticking out,” she posted to Facebook.
The reunion was quickly arranged. The Battistas had some local friends pick him up from the Horns, and then Elissa made the five-hour trip to retrieve Fisher and bring him home. Apart from minor signs of possible frostbite, Fisher was in excellent shape.
The Battistas are so thankful to have Fisher back, they’re now doing their part to pay it forward, once again by using the powers of social media for good. The Facebook page formerly known as “Find Fisher” has been transformed into “Find Fisher’s Friends” and is now dedicated to helping other pet parents locate their lost four-legged loved ones.
The family has also pledged to apply any leftover funds from their GoFundMe to the charity of Fisher’s choice once he was safely back with his family. While we’re still awaiting “woof” on what that might be, the takeaways from this story seem clear:
Social media and microchips are powerful tools in reuniting lost pets with their families. Using both is the best chance of a happy outcome.
And while no reunion is guaranteed, if you’re thinking of giving up hope—don’t. Because more than anything, as Fisher’s 10-month walk-about proves, hope has no expiration date.