US & Canada

How a beer can helped reunite a woman with her dog after three years

Monica Mathis and her dog Hazel Image copyright Monica Mathis
Image caption Reunited: Monica Mathis and her dog Hazel

A US woman has been reunited with her long lost dog thanks to a can of beer.

Monica Mathis' dog Hazel vanished from her Iowa yard in May 2017.

But recently, Ms Mathis saw a familiar face staring out from a pint pictured on social media.

A brewery over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) away in Florida had gained prominence on the internet for putting adoptable dogs on its cans to help a local shelter.

Hazel, renamed Day Day by the shelter, was among the featured canines in need of care.

While it's still unclear how Hazel wound up across the country, she has been returned to Ms Mathis after the unlikely connection got her back to her home.

Image copyright Gary Sweetman/Courtesy Motorworks Brewing
Image caption Hazel (centre right), a golden-terrier mix, had been renamed Day Day at the shelter

The golden-terrier mix disappeared while she was leashed in Ms Mathis' yard in Iowa, and could not be found, despite her owner's search efforts. Ms Mathis moved to St Paul, Minnesota, soon after.

"I had seven kids and was getting prepared to move and then I lost her," Ms Mathis told the BBC. "I didn't stop searching for her until I left - and even then, I'd call people back there to ask, 'have you seen her?'"

Somehow, Hazel had made her way some 1,300 miles down south to Bradenton, a town in Manatee County, Florida.

When she was brought to the county animal shelter, staff tried to use her microchip to locate her owner, but the contact information was out of date.

At the time, Motorworks Brewing, a local company, had partnered with the shelter to help dogs find homes by putting their faces on a four-pack of cold ones.

The cans made headlines and were featured on the popular daytime TV programme the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Miles away in Minnesota, stories about the "beer dogs" suddenly appeared on Ms Mathis' Facebook feed.

"This is my dog," Ms Mathis wrote on the brewery's post on 24 January.

The shelter asked Ms Mathis to share proof that the golden-terrier mix was hers, including veterinary records and photographs.

She told the BBC: "I was really nervous someone would walk in and get her - they'd told me there's a lot of people looking at adopting her...I was panicking, like I'd lose her again."

Luckily, Ms Mathis was able to hunt down various records from places she had taken Hazel in the past, like her old veterinary clinic.

"When I moved, I'd lost all the microchip paperwork," Ms Mathis says. "When she went missing, I really didn't even think to update it, which was just stupid of me - and now I have it linked to my phone."

When everything was set straight a few days later, the shelter announced that Hazel was going home.

"You can't make up a story this good," Barry Elwonger, marketing director at Motorworks Brewing, told the BBC. He said it was "incredible" to see the reach of the story on social media.

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Media captionSir Darius Brown, 13, makes canine bow ties so unwanted dogs in shelters can get a "second chance"

The brewery has a history of partnering with animal-related charities, but this is the first time a beer can has gained this much influence - and helped reconnect a family.

Mr Elwonger, who met Hazel on a couple of television appearances promoting the shelter, said she was a very sweet dog.

The Friends of Manatee County Animal Services nonprofit helped send Hazel home, just in time to celebrate her seventh birthday.

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