SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. — You may remember the search for a St. Pete pup named "Mahi."
The more than 60 pound Rottweiler went missing last year. Owner Jason Gell says he went to authorities in search of the dog and shared his situation on social media where he got an overwhelming amount of support to try and locate the then 9-month-old pup.
Jason Gell lost his dog in November of 2019. It was around 11:30 p.m. when he let "Mahi" out to their gated backyard.
The dog was reported stolen on Nov. 2.
"I let him out back, fell asleep, I woke up, I'll never forget, its 6:08 a.m. and both doors are shut and I am looking under the pool table, under the dining room table, in the kitchen, all over the place, I can't find him. He's just gone," Gell said.
Gell said a Lyft driver was seen on his neighbor's Ring security camera picking the dog up, late at night, last November.
Gell said the footage shows the dog running after a car in the street around 1:15 a.m. -- escaping from the backyard through an open gate at his home that a worker left open by mistake.
The Lyft driver told police he thought the dog was lost when he discovered it in the area of 13th Street NE and 40th Ave NE on at 1 a.m. on Nov. 2. The driver saw the dog and tried to put him in the hatchback area of the car before the dog ran away as he opened the door.
Jason Gell was in Las Vegas on Jan. 21 when he got a call from his mother that a woman reached out claiming "to have found Mahi in Seffner" and wanted to return him. Gell took a red-eye flight to reunite with his pup.
Ecstatic for his return, Gell hosted a welcome home party for the dog on Jan. 23 at Ferg’s Sports Bar and dog park -- only to become flooded with messages online that the dog he had in his ownership was indeed not "Mahi"
"I was confused like everyone else. I thought my boy was home," said Gell.
Gell confirms there was a misunderstanding from the woman who called and claimed to have located "Mahi." The dog was later identified as "Rocco" from Seffner.
After becoming aware of this, Gell confirms that he connected with Rocco's owner Engel Alvarez, and an adoption agreement was reached. Gell became the new rightful owner of "Rocco"
In the signed document, they agreed to the following the payment of $400.00 Alvarez released full responsibility and ownership of the canine.
The Lyft driver has not been charged.
Gell is still in search of his now 1-year-old Rottweiler named 'Mahi'.
"Myself and my family have been called some pretty vile things online through all of this. I thank everyone who initially tried to help. But this has been tough for us. I am glad to take Rocco in through our agreement, but I still wish to find Mahi" said Gell.
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