By Kevin Coughlin
The saga of Bella and Boss, puppies believed stolen from their Morristown backyard over the weekend, has ended in tears.
Tears of joy.
“I cried for the first time in I can’t tell you how long,” Donnie Horn said on Thursday morning. He and his fiancée, Lorena Bussorelli, were reunited with their 4-month-old pit bull/pointers on Wednesday night, thanks to someone who recognized them from photos the distraught couple had shared via social media.
Morristown police Lt. Stuart Greer confirmed that an “aware citizen” had located the dogs and they were returned “safe and sound” to their owners. He declined to comment further, noting that detectives are investigating the incident.
The couple had reported their puppies were gone from their fenced-in backyard near Speedwell Avenue and Speedwell Place when they returned from grocery shopping on Saturday evening. The puppies’ mother, Jersey, nicknamed Mama, still was there.
On Wednesday, Bussorelli posted online that she had received a tip that a white female in her 40s had been thwarted in an attempt to grab another puppy from behind a fence on Hanover Avenue. That person stood about 5-feet-4 ad was driving a black BMW, according to the posting.Horn said he got a call from a citizen — he declined to identify the town — who had been sitting on her front porch and noticed a neighbor with the puppies. She snapped a photo and sent it to Horn.”We immediately knew it was them. We went to her house and called the cops. Before we were off the phone, [the dogs] were taken into custody by an animal rescue officer from that town,” he said.Horn and Bussorelli had offered a $1,000 reward for the safe return of the pets. Asked if the citizen would get the reward, Horn replied: “Yes. Absolutely.”
Bella and Boss showed signs of emotional trauma but no apparent physical abuse, Horn said. “You could tell the dogs were scared. You could see in their faces they were bereaved.”
The separation may have been hardest on the pups’ mother, who kept looking for them in the same places every day, Horn said. When they were reunited, Jersey’s “tail started going crazy,” and the puppies started playing “like they never missed a beat.”For Horn, it felt “like a huge weight was lifted off me. Every day, that was all I could think about. Everything else just didn’t matter. It’s a good feeling, an amazing feeling, to know they’re safe.”Bella and Boss are staying at an undisclosed location until the investigation is concluded, Horn said. “I didn’t want to bring the dogs over here. I don’t want the same thing to happen again.”The episode has taught the couple a painful lesson about leaving pets unattended.”To be honest, we never thought something like this would happen in Morristown,” said Horn, who moved here from Georgia about a year ago. “When we were talking about moving, we fell in love with the place. Everyone was so nice. It seemed like one of those places where you could be comfortable and not worry. But we probably got too comfortable. Yes, we learned that we’ve got to be more vigilant. We can’t leave them unattended.”