CONYERS - If dogs could talk, Oscar and Dudley would have one whopper of a story to tell.
For four months, Oscar, a Jack Russell terrier, and Dudley, a miniature dachshund, were separated from their home on Brown Bridge Road after they ran off and were mistakenly adopted out to families in DeKalb County.
The dogs' owners, Tony and Kim Terrell, eventually turned to the Newton County Probate Court and District Attorney's office for help. In the end, however, it took some detective work on their own to track the dogs down.
"I was afraid they wouldn't remember us after that length of time away," said Kim Terrell. "Dudley was always kind of a pig, so when he went straight to the cookie jar and remembered how to get into them, I knew everything would be fine."
Their story began Dec. 8 when Oscar and Dudley broke out of their fenced-in back yard.
The Terrells searched for the dogs and put up signs around their neighborhood. They later learned an elderly woman living nearby found the dogs wandering and gave them to a pet foster home in Rockdale County. The foster organization then took them to Petco at the Mall at Stonecrest five days later, where they were adopted out separately to two DeKalb County families.
Unable to get answers about the dogs' new homes from the pet rescue group, the couple took out a warrant against the group and the group's foster home. Authorities advised the Terrells that their case was really against the Petco store that operated the pet adoption program that gave Oscar and Dudley to the two families in December.
The Terrells contacted the store, and officials there provided them with contact information for the people who adopted the dogs.
Dudley was returned to them in February after the DeKalb County family learned of the Terrells' plight.
However, Oscar remained missing until two weeks ago.
Kim Terrell said the phone number for the woman who adopted Oscar was disconnected, but they were able to locate her through her MySpace page. From there, the Terrells determined she did indeed have a newly adopted Jack Russell terrier and learned she worked for DeKalb County.
Kim Terrell said it took some persuasion on their part when she and Tony contacted the woman because she had grown attached to Oscar. However, photos of Oscar and a copy of the Rockdale Citizen story published in December about the missing dogs convinced the woman that she indeed had adopted the Terrells' pet.
"They knew for certain it was our dog, and reluctantly they gave our dog back," Kim Terrell said.
Since bringing the dogs home, Kim Terrell said they learned a valuable lesson. Both dogs now wear collars with tags and Tony Terrell has fixed spots along their fence where the dogs could get out.
Kim Terrell urged pet owners to put identification tags or microchip their pets and consider getting them spayed or neutered.
"You think it wouldn't happen to you until they're gone," she said.