Mary is disgusted, frozen in her tracks. This had to be some kind of joke, right? How could this be here, buried in the dirty ground? She wants to scream, yell out for help, and run away, but no words come out.
She starts to sob and she thinks of her poor pup Rory. He never deserved any of this. He was just a dog. She wipes the tears from her eyes and tries to compose herself. How could her husband have done this to her? Did he think he could get away with it? She feels sick to her stomach.
For Mary Hughes, there was nothing she loved more than her dog Rory. Her husband Paul came a close second, but you see, Rory had been a part of Mary’s life much longer than Paul.
Rory had been there for Mary through all sorts; her first heartbreak, house, family tragedy, and the pup even witnessed the birth of his sister, Mary’s daughter! This dog was something special and although he was getting older he showed no signs of slowing down. But Mary had no idea her world was about to be turned upside down.
It was a warm summer day when Mary was sunbathing in her garden. The weather was glorious; it was the perfect weather to spend doing absolutely nothing! Meanwhile, Rory, Mary’s dog, was quietly pottering about looking for new smells to uncover.
Then suddenly, Mary’s husband Paul arrived home. The sound of the back gate unlocking alerted Rory and his tail started wagging, excited to see who it was. Paul opened the back gate and Rory raced over. But instead of jumping up at Paul, this pooch instead, went racing outside into the neighborhood. And just like that, nothing would ever be the same again.
Racing out of her home and out into the neighborhood, Mary could feel panic take over. She screamed out Rory’s name while worst-case scenarios came flooding into her mind. He was going to be ok, right?
Mary could see Rory in the distance; a dark blob running further and further away. She tried her best to catch up with the excited pup but her 47-year-old legs got the better of her and she had to slow down. But time was running out.
Two hours later and Rory still had not been found. Mary rounded up her closest friends and family to head out and look for the dog, but they hadn’t found anything.
Mary could feel her world shatter as each minute went by without her dog by her side. She just wanted to make sure he was ok and not scared or injured. As she sobbed into her tissues, She had no idea more heartbreak, and devastation was to come.
Three months had passed and Rory still had not been found. Mary ensured she would never give up on the search for her pup; she had posters made and dotted them everywhere in her town, and she was even offering a $5,000 cash reward for whoever could bring home her dog.
But despite all the effort, there were no leads. Meanwhile, Mary’s husband Paul tried his best to comfort and console Mary, but she had a terrible feeling in her stomach every time he came close. She felt something strange was going on with her husband. Little did she know she was right.
While Mary felt like her whole world had been crushed, Paul was acting weird. He seemed happier for some strange reason. Could he be happy that the dog was missing? Surely not, Paul adored Rory, but Mary knew that Rory could be a possessive little dog.
Despite this, Mary tried to concentrate on getting her dog back, but then one night something strange happened.
It was 12:05 am when Mary was woken up by the sound of a large van speeding past on the street. She saw that Paul wasn’t in the bed so she instantly got up, rubbed her tired eyes, and peered outside her window, and what she saw left a chill up her spine.
Outside in their backyard, she saw Paul stood with his hands on his head. What was he doing? Then he picked up a shovel and started digging into the ground. What was he doing this time of the night? She dismisses her thoughts and gets back into bed. Little did she know she shouldn’t have.
The following day, and still feeling emotional about her lost pup, Mary decided to do some gardening to distract herself. She knew had to do something to keep her busy. She couldn’t keep thinking about the what if’s.
She gathered her gardening tools and headed into the backyard, but she had no idea what she was about to uncover.
“What’s a matter?” Mary asked. Paul came racing over his face flustered. “Just don’t dig there please, I’ve just planted some, Uhm, veg!” he said, with a smile. But this didn’t sit well with Mary. “Ok,” she replied, and a strange feeling shivered up her spine.
What was under the ground that was such a big deal? Was her husband hiding something? She knew she had to wait until he was at work to take a closer look. But what she would find would leave her sick to her stomach.
A few hours passed and Paul had headed out to work. After waving him goodbye on the driveway, Mary raced inside, grabbed the shovel, and went back into the backyard. She was about to start digging where her husband had just demanded her not to.
But Mary knew she had to find whatever it was he was hiding. She gets on her knees and crumbles the soil with her fingers, trying to find whatever it was. Then she feels something. She pulls it from the ground, takes a closer look, and feels sick to her stomach.
Mary let’s out a sigh as she stabs her shovel into the ground. With each dig, she thought of what she could plant. Maybe some strawberries? Or carrots? They were always Rory’s favorite.
She stopped digging and held back the tears. She didn’t want to be digging, she just wanted to be back in her doggies arms. But then suddenly, her shovel hits something in the ground. What was it? As she crouches to get a closer look, her husband Paul came racing out the door. “Not there!” He screamed. What was he hiding?
This had to be a joke, right? Mary is utterly lost for words. She feels sick to her stomach and with each glance at the ‘thing’ in the ground, she retches with disgust. How could her husband do this to her?
Mary feels overwhelmed with emotion. She feels upset, angry, repulsed, and distraught. Did her husband really think he could get away it?
You see, what Mary had just uncovered was a potato that looked exactly like her dog Rory! The resemblance was uncanny!
She held the potato in her hand and let out a sob. To others it might look strange, a grown woman crying over a potato, but this potato just reminded Mary how much she missed her dog. As she got up from the ground, armed with her potato, her husband arrived back. She knew had to get answers.
It turned out that Mary’s husband Paul had found the potato a few days prior, and decided not to show Mary in case it made her more upset. But on the contrary, for the first time in a while, Mary felt at peace.
Perhaps this was a sign? She made sure she never got rid of the potato. She didn’t know when, or even if, her dog Rory would return. And, half a world away, another woman’s dog also disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Luckily, there was a clue on his microchip that would blow the case wide open…
The black car rolled up and she prayed it was holding some precious cargo. The sheriff swung the car door open before getting out. Her heart fluttered when she made a move to open the back door of the car, and suddenly she couldn’t contain her tears anymore. Someone had gotten out and was running toward her at breakneck speed.
Kameroun was a fighter and she had never given up on her best friend. Finally, the case had been blown wide open. And it was all because of one pivotal clue, hidden inside her dog’s microchip.
Kameroun Mares had been diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia at a young age. Thankfully, she went into remission, but the disease had already taken its toll on her — both physically and psychologically.
She found herself more and more depressed as time went on, so she decided to do something about it. Deciding that what she needed in her life was a companion and a positive influence, she decided to get a dog.
Kameroun had done all her research. She had read up on different breeds’ behavior and temperament and had made her choice. Planning to go running daily, she found that a Siberian Husky would suit her lifestyle perfectly. Being a high-energy dog, he would be more than happy to run by her side.
With preparations made in anticipation of her new puppy coming home, she had even decided on a name. But what she could never have anticipated was just how attached to her new companion she would become.
The pup Semper Fidelis, which means “always faithful,” was finally ready to come home. Kameroun could hardly contain her excitement. And the pup quickly proved to be all she had ever wanted in a dog and more.
He thrived under the care of Kameroun and, before she knew it, he had traded his rambunctious puppy nature for the calm maturity of adulthood. But the Husky breed is well-known for presenting some challenges, too.
Semper’s main problems were with recall and walking on a lead — common problems for the husky breed. They were bred to run long distances, pulling sleds behind them through the harshest weather.
So, naturally, Semper used his powerful shoulders to pull and tug at his lead. Kameroun knew in her heart that if she ever let go, Semper would run and run and she wouldn’t be able to catch him. So when Semper went missing one day, Kameroun thought she knew what had happened. But she was so very wrong.
Kameroun and Semper were utterly inseparable. With her illness close on her heels, some days were better than others. But with Semper by her side, she knew that they could get through anything together. Semper helped her to feel stronger every day.
Of course, when Kameroun relocated from California to Florida, Semper came with her. But then, the unimaginable happened.
Kameroun had to undergo treatment while she was in Florida, but was unpleasantly surprised to discover that she wasn’t covered by her medical insurance while she was in a different state. The only way she could receive her treatment was to return to California. But she had to make a hard choice.
Semper would have to stay in Florida for the duration of her treatment. Even though Kameroun did everything she could to make sure he wouldn’t be alone and asked her roommate to take care of him while she was away, she couldn’t help but feel worried. And she was right to be. She was about to make a terrible mistake.
Kameroun made her way back to California while Semper stayed with her roommate and a pet sitter to ensure that he was well taken care of. Then, it all went horribly wrong.
Kameroun got the fateful call from her roommate, and her blood ran cold. “I was told by my roommate Semper had escaped through the front door,” Mares explained to ABC News.“I asked, ‘Did he have a collar on?’ My roommate said he didn’t know.”
Devastated Kameroun’s first hope was social media. She trawled the lost and found pet groups for any signs of Semper. She shared a photo of him far and wide, put up fliers, and checked the local vets and shelters.
Two years passed with no sign of Semper… it was like he had disappeared into thin air. But Kameroun’s suspicions grew with each passing day.
One day, Kameroun was feeling particularly low. The loss of Semper had caused her unimaginable heartache, and time only made her feel his absence more deeply. Then, she had an idea, and it came with a flicker of hope.
She pulled out her laptop and logged in to check Semper’s microchip records. The chances of her finding any new information were slim, but she had to try. Her eyes widened as the records loaded.
Kameroun was baffled to see that there was an extra record on Semper’s microchip — one that didn’t belong. The original registration for the American Kennel Club was there, but the second mysterious record was under the name “PetKey.” Even more suspiciously, the record had been added around the time of Semper’s disappearance.
For the first time in two years, Kameroun felt a profound surge of hope. She knew exactly what to do. With renewed resolve, she hired a private investigator and a lawyer. She wasn’t going to give up on her best friend.
Ana Campos Investigations (ACI) delved deeper into the case of missing Semper and then made a disturbing find. Semper hadn’t run away after all — he had been taken.
But why had her roommate told her that Semper had escaped through the front door and run away? There was definitely something strange going on.
“In reality, he was never missing; he was sold,” Kameroun said. “He was stolen [by my roommate] and sold from me without my consent.”
The investigator discovered later that Kameroun’s roommate sold him for just $200! But where did this leave them? Would Kameroun ever see her beloved dog again? With the investigator making headway, she couldn’t give up hope… not after she had come this far.
Kameroun battled long and hard in court, and then it all finally paid off. The court ruled in her favor, declaring her Semper’s rightful owner, and the husky was seized by the sheriff.
Ana Campos uploaded an update on the case on October 18, 2018. Underneath the video, the caption read: “Watch at your own risk of crying immediately. Here is the video and audio from Kameroun Mares reunion with her dog Semper today.”
In the video, Semper arrives in the back of the sheriff’s black car, tail wagging as he paces up and down the backseat. The officer opens the door to release him and leads him onto the street, leash firmly in her hand.
When Kameroun sees Semper she is completely overwhelmed with emotion. “Semper!” she shrieks, and the husky cocks his ears in response. But does he remember her after all the time apart?
Semper strains against his leash when he hears his name, and the sheriff has no choice but to let him go. His ears lie flat and his mouth lolls as he bolts, his tail a grey blur of happiness.
Kameroun falls to her knees and opens her arms as the tears run down her cheeks. After two long years of anguish, she finally has her best friend in all the world back in her arms.
When Semper is close enough for Kameroun to touch, she can’t contain her raw emotion any longer. The husky darts excitedly to and fro as Kameroun grips the leash in her hand and pulls him closer. She can hardly believe it.
Then, the dog does something that only Semper would do, and she’s now sure it’s really him.
“He’s still the same as usual,” Kameroun cries, her voice cracking “Just tugging the leash as always!” Then, Kameroun lets out a heartrending wail and crumbles, burying her face in her beloved dog’s thick fur as she lets loose all the tears she’s been holding onto for so very long. Semper lowers his head as if he understands.
But the question remains: how did this happen? And who is to be held responsible for tearing these two soulmates apart?
“Please keep in mind Kameroun is just 26 years old. She was 23 when this began. For a young girl to have the wherewithal and courage to hire a private investigator and attorney is remarkable,” Ana Campos Investigations wrote.
“Shame on Petkey pets for causing her to suffer and spend her savings on fighting for her dog back because of the role they played.”
“He was stolen and sold by her roommate 2 1/2 years ago. She was told he was lost on April 30, 2016. But on April 11, 2016 the buyer added their name to his AKC Reunite “registered chip”. They registered this registered chip on Petkey pets instead. Petkey pets did not bother to see if he was chipped already.”
Of course, Kameroun was just relieved that he was returned to her, safe and sound. But what does PetKey have to say about their irresponsible behavior?
“It is a pet identifier,” they claimed. “It’s not a certificate of ownership, it’s just to help pets going in the right direction. Vets, shelters, animal control etcetera.”
They added: “It’s not for the microchip company to determine who the rightful owner is.” But surely it was up to them to check Semper’s microchip?
Semper’s story illustrates just how important it is to always microchip your pets. If Semper hadn’t been microchipped and Kameroun able to check his data on the online database, who knows if the two would ever have been reunited?
“The huge wound in my heart can finally start healing,” Kameroun told ABC News. She encourages people who have lost pets to check their microchip records online for any suspicious records: “I implore owners to be aware that this can and does happen.”
She knew there was something wrong the moment that her dog had snapped at her belly. There was something lurking deep inside her, waiting to reveal itself. She shuddered as the doctor flippantly looked over her again, and a wave of nausea rose from her stomach. The deep ache had become a ball, throbbing insistently. She felt walled off, behind her pain.