WELLINGTON, Fla. - A woman and her dog were reunited on Saturday after the dog had been missing for three years.
All that time, the dog had been about eight miles from its home near the Wellington Mall.
Security and shoppers had seen it, but no one could catch the scared, skittish animal until this week.
Owner Patty Corbat was starting to lose hope. "I had given up on her," Corbat said.
But three years of waiting led up to an unforgettable day. "I had the shock of my life," she said.
Pet Haven Pet Rescue called her and said it found her dog, Olivia.
Saturday, they set up a reunion. "I can hardly wait to see her, I just hope she remembers me," said Corbat before the the big event.
Olivia surely remembered her owner. After being let out of a van, the scared, 11-year-old dog greeted Corbat, and seemed to finally be comforted.
"Oh, I'm so happy to have her back you have no idea," said Corbat.
People had seen the dog for years. One picture showed Olivia two years ago, but no one could catch her.
She made a home in a field next to the mall, and would take cover under trees. Officials with Pet Haven say she was found covered in tree sap and feces, emaciated, and had been eating trash and rocks.
Corbat says when the dog went missing, a vet had just found tumors on her body.
"There's no way. I can't imagine her living out there for 3 years with no one feeding her," said Carole Chapuis with Pet Haven.
Chapius helped set up a trap to catch the dog, then gave her a bath, and found a microchip in her chest.
Without the chip, Chapius says she would have never made it back to Corbat.
Corbat says the day meant more to her than getting her pet back, but fulfilling her late husband's wishes.
"He said 'if I should go, please, take good care of my Olivia.' And I said ,'you got it.' "
Corbat says the dog disappeared after being left with a dog sitter.
Chapius stresses that situations like these are why it's so important to have pets micro-chipped. She says it can be done inexpensively at any animal control location.
A fund has been set up to raise money for Olivia's medical bills. Donations can be sent to the Riverbridge Animal Hospital in Royal Palm Beach. The phone number is 561-966-1171.