LIBERTY - Mabel the bulldog is going home.
The 3-year-old English bulldog was stolen from a minivan in Liberty last month when her Idaho family stopped at Bob Evans for dinner.
After an extensive Facebook campaign and media coverage, Mabel's owner, Brooke Jillings, received a call Wednesday from a woman in Columbus who said she had the dog.
Jillings spoke to the Tribune Chronicle by cellphone Thursday from a rest stop somewhere in Nebraska after having driven through the night.
Jillings said the West Columbus woman purchased the dog at a Columbus area grocery store last week for $500. After having the dog for about a week, the woman saw the missing dog's image on Internet ads site during some routine surfing and immediately contacted Jillings.
Jillings said she got the call around 1 or 2 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. At first she didn't realize what the woman was telling her and thought it may have just been a potential lead or another false alarm.
When it dawned on her that the woman was calling to say she had Mabel, Jillings said she turned to jelly.
"I'm sure I sounded like a gibbering idiot. I was stuttering, I kept telling her thank you, and I didn't know what to say," Jillings said.
She asked the woman to send pictures. The Columbus-area dog warden was called and confirmed the Mabel's identity by waving a wand over the microchip implanted below the dog's skin.
Jillings said that Mary Gump of Youngstown, who helped her with the search for Mabel while Jillings was staying at the Liberty Days Inn for three weeks, made the arrangements to have Mabel brought back to Youngstown, where Jillings will reunite with her today, exactly one month after the dog went missing.
While the family has offered a $1,000 reward, Jillings said the woman in Columbus never mentioned a reward, but only expressed concern for recouping the $500 she paid for Mabel. Jillings said she intends to give the woman the full $1,000.
Mabel has skin allergies and having been without her medicine for a month, has some hot spots that need attention, she said. Gump is treating them until she arrives, Jillings said.