An Army vet was reunited with his beloved pup in what’s being called a “Christmas miracle.”
When Geoff Hoffman walked up to his Oklahoma home on Dec. 20, he knew something was wrong.
“I came home from work and noticed my gate and front door were open,” Hoffman, 38, told Yahoo Lifestyle.
He soon realized he had been a victim of a home invasion.
“My TV had been moved from the wall but nothing was taken, except Bridget,” he continued.
Bridget, Hoffman’s beloved 3-year-old pit bull, had been stolen from his house while he was at work.
“She comes everywhere with me, so it’s possible someone saw her and followed me home.”
Hoffman had adopted the grey-and-white dog two years ago, and the two built an incredibly special bond.
“She is loved beyond definition,” Hoffman captioned a photo on Facebook. “She is my ever-adventurous sidekick and my eternal source of joy.”
Hoffman took immediate action – turning to Facebook with a plea for information, as well as filing a police report. But the vet, who served with the Special Ops Forces in Afghanistan for eight years, said he went back to his training to search for his missing dog.
“Sergeant Hoffman was back,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I was on a mission and told myself I would stop searching for Bridget under two conditions: She returned home or I knew with certainty that she was dead.”
Hoffman started plastering his city with cards advertising a “large reward” for Bridget’s return. He created a Facebook page called Bring Bridget Back, dedicated to finding any information about where his dog had gone.
He went on long night drives with his girlfriend searching for Bridget in the below-freezing temperatures, and even reached out to law enforcement and fire departments to help share his story.
The story gained traction on social media across the world, with “people in the Bahamas and England” messaging him about Bridget.
“When I dropped off her photo at the Humane Society, a volunteer gasped and said, ‘Is this Bridget?’ The support was overwhelming,” Hoffman said.
But still, the Army vet, who was so distressed he didn’t eat for three days, had yet to be reunited with Bridget – until the morning of Christmas Eve.
“My girlfriend was driving down a rural road, in below-freezing temperatures, a few miles from my house, when she saw Bridget and slammed on her brakes,” Hoffman said. “She was lying by the side of the road but when she saw my girlfriend, she started wagging her tail.”
When Hoffman got the call from his girlfriend, he sped to the 24-hour pet clinic Bridget had been taken to.
“I was hoping I wouldn’t get a speeding ticket,” he said.
After a thorough investigation, the veterinarian found the dog was generally unharmed – though she had been starved, was dehydrated and had blood in her stool as well as cuts on her left leg.
“It made me wonder whether someone stole her for dog fighting and either cut or tried to starve her to make her aggressive,” says Hoffman. “Bridget was also found wearing her distinctive pink, floral collar, and her leash, and my phone number was scratched off her tag — maybe the thief got spooked by all the media attention and dumped her on a random road.”
Since being reunited with Bridget, Hoffman says he is “overwhelmed with gratitude.”
“The support I’ve gotten has been mindblowing,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle.
Hoffman hopes to help others find their missing pets through Bridget’s Facebook page, which he has maintained since her return.
Hoffman’s friend also set up a GoFundMe page to help with the costs of Bridget’s medical bills, which had raised $3,771 of its $2,300 goal at the time of this writing.