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Dec 4, 2013 11:00 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

Homeless man helps reunite snowbird from Alaska with lost dog

TUCSON- A snowbird from Alaska and his six month old Rottweiler were reunited this week thanks to the kindness of complete strangers.

Teddy Tonne and his pup named "O.D.", which stands for "Outdoor Dog", share the same birthday, June 6.

In October, they traveled to Tucson from Alaska, where Tonne spends his spring and summer months.

They were an inseparable pair, until last Saturday night, when O.D. suddenly ran off. "There was no way I could chase after him and that was it," Tonne says.

Or so Tonne thought.

Little did the Vietnam War Veteran know, O.D. was headed straight to 4th Avenue and Congress Street, where he started swerving in between cars. That's when a homeless man named John Benvenga found him. "It was a pretty busy night and I'm glad he found me," Benvenga says.

Benvenga immediately set out to find the dog's rightful owner, but he quickly realized it wouldn't be an easy task. "I saw the tags and I saw he was from Alaska," Benvenga says. "So I had no idea how he got down here. I thought maybe with some traveling kids or maybe with someone who just moved here."

After contacting shelters with no luck, Benvenga turned to his friend Lizzie Mead, an animal advocate. "It became our mission," Mead says. "We were going to find his owner and bring him back."

Mead posted a picture of O.D. on Facebook and in a short matter of time the picture was shared by more than 2,000 users. Before she knew it, Mead was getting tips about O.D.'s owner. That information, along with some extensive internet searches, helped Mead and Benvenga track down Tonne's family members in Alaska, who then contacted him.

Tonne was reunited with O.D. on Wednesday. "I don't know what I would do without that dog," Tonne says.

Benvenga, who also served in the military for a couple of years, says he plans to keep in close contact with Tonne and O.D.

Of course dog owners can't always depend on the kindness of strangers to help locate lost dogs. Mead says this incident is a reminder for pet owners to get their dogs micro chipped.


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