A Long Island family was devastated when their beloved dog, an 11-year-old Shih Tzu named Bella, disappeared a week before Christmas. Fortuna Feliciano and her family were working with authorities to bring their stolen dog home, but the odds of a happy ending got worse with every day. It didn’t help that the holidays are the busiest time of the year. But thanks to tremendous effort from her neighbors and the Suffolk County SPCA, the Feliciano family experienced the best kind of Christmas miracle.
Everything started when Feliciano noticed Bella had escaped the yard.
The little dog managed to dig a hole under the fence when her family wasn’t looking. When her sons got home from school, Feliciano packed them into the car and started searching the neighborhood. They drove slowly down every street calling Bella’s name, but they didn’t see her.
During that search, Feliciano missed a call from an Amazon delivery person. The Amazon worker had been delivering Christmas packages nearby when they saw Bella wandering on her own. They called the phone number on Bella’s collar. But by the time Feliciano called back, the Amazon worker no longer had the dog. They said they had given the pup to a jogger who said they knew who the dog belonged to. Thinking the person was a neighbor doing a good deed, the worker handed over the dog so they could continue their deliveries.
Feliciano was hopeful a neighbor would soon come knocking on their door holding Bella, but that knock never came. As more time passed, it became clear that the “helpful neighbor” wasn’t trying to be helpful at all.
Running out of options, Feliciano contacted Suffolk County SPCA.
Investigators determined Bella had indeed been stolen. They started looking for any clues that could tell them where the stolen dog was. The entire week before Christmas, Feliciano focused on Bella. She told NY Post,
“I felt that I had lost my child. I never stopped looking for her.”
Investigators talked to the Amazon delivery person and neighbors hoping for clues. On the Monday before Christmas, the Suffolk County SPCA announced a $2,000 reward for credible information.
Investigators promised that they would have Bella home in time for Christmas. But deep in her heart, Feliciano knew it would be a tough promise to keep. They were at a dead end and no closer to Bella. All the odds were pointing to a Christmas without their furriest family member.
On Christmas day, Feliciano had a muted holiday celebration with her kids. Everyone knew someone was missing.
When investigators received a Christmas day tip, everything changed.
Determined to keep their promise, officials didn’t waste any time in following through with the tip. It didn’t matter that it was a holiday, all that mattered was getting Bella back.
At 10 pm on Christmas night, Feliciano got the news. The tip was legitimate, and Bella was on her way home. It was a long drive, but with only two minutes to spare, the stolen dog made it home for Christmas. Feliciano said,
“When they drove up to the driveway with Bella…my heart just healed. It’as an emotion that’s very hard to explain.”
Now that Bella is safe at home, there is an ongoing investigation into the theft. Feliciano wants to know who is responsible for almost tearing her family apart, but for now, she’s rejoicing over her very own Christmas miracle.
Watch a short video on the stolen dog below.