Junior is home for the holidays

Missing for 8 years, Junior is reunited with his family

After 8 years lost, including 2 ½ years spent with us at the Humane Society of Summit County, Junior is back with his family in time for Christmas.

Julia Nemeth of Barberton never gave up on her search for Junior, a Pit Bull Terrier mix, after he was taken from her home in 2012 during a home invasion. Julia raised Junior from a puppy and trained him to be both her companion and a protector. The two were inseparable, according to Julia, and he was her best friend during those two years. She described him as friendly, devoted, and smart. When her baby was born in 2012, she taught Junior hand signal commands so she could communicate with her faithful pup and not wake her sleeping infant.

Julia and Junior shared a special connection she never forgot. Over the years she scoured local shelter photos and lost-and-found pet groups online. She thought she found him on Craigslist listed for sale, but the poster never responded to her email. While she checked the Humane Society of Summit County website, her searches never matched up with his time at the shelter.

Junior was known as “Buddy” during his on-and-off stay at HSSC. He originally arrived at our shelter in July 2018 after being surrendered to Humane Officers. He was in fair health upon his arrival and was treated by our shelter veterinarian for tapeworms before he was made available for adoption. Buddy was a staff and volunteer favorite, known for loving chew toys, but was aloof with visitors. He was adopted three times over the years, but none the families were the right fit. HSSC is a no time-limit shelter and provides support for adopters following adoption to manage behavioral issues, but does accept pets back to the shelter for any reason. For Buddy, shelter staff knew the right family was out there, but they didn’t know he already had a family that had never given up on him.

Julia found Junior’s picture on the HSSC website again in mid-December and called us right away. Shelter staff compared photos of Junior to our Buddy and thought there might be a match. Julia described her dog’s personality which matched the shelter dog’s quirks even after so many years. Julia came to the shelter that day hoping to reunite with her long lost pet.

During the initial meeting, Junior was a bit distracted but instantly connected with Julia, licking his long lost owner’s face as if there was a glimmer of a memory. She tried some of the hand signal commands she had taught Junior years ago and he obeyed them perfectly. Julia, who is married and the mother of four children, brought her family to meet Junior the next day to ensure that the Junior she remembered could fit in. They took him home that night.

Junior is settling in well in his new home with his forever family! Now a senior at 9 years old, Julia tells us Junior likes to snuggle on the couch on the laps of his family members. He’s happiest when he can see everyone and keep a watchful eye. He warmed up to the children and the family’s other dog quickly. He still loves chew toys and balls, and plays catch with Julia’s son in their big backyard.

Julia says of the reunion, “I keep asking my husband to pinch me because I can’t believe this is real. I can’t believe Junior is home. He carried me through challenges of my life and to have him back means everything to me.”

The best way to ensure your pet finds their way home if they get lost is by wearing a collar and ID tag with contact information as well as having your pet microchipped and ensuring the contact information on your microchip is up to date. In 2021, HSSC is launching a new partnership with to help reunite families with their missing pets. Through this free service, pet owners can upload their missing pet’s photo to the Finding Rover site that will be compared with photos of animals in partnering shelters to identify possible matches.

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