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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – The new year is off to a wonderful start for dog owner, Dylan Summers, and his beloved dog, Athena, when they were reunited after 10 months.

When Athena disappeared from Dylan’s yard in Bourbon, MO, in February of 2020, she was recovering from amputation surgery after being hit by a car and was still on postoperative medication. Dylan was devastated by her disappearance.

“I searched everywhere for her and posted online but no one came forward. I had suspicions that she was stolen but I couldn’t confirm it. I was so worried about her,” Summers said.

After 10 months of searching for Athena, he had decided to move on and start looking for a new dog to adopt. This is when he saw Athena’s photo on the list of adoptable dogs on the Gateway Pet Guardians website, an East St. Louis, IL based animal welfare agency. Gateway Pet Guardians is over an hour drive from Dylan’s home.

“It was about 9 p.m. on the night of December 30th and I just happened to check my voicemail before bed and there was a call from Dylan stating that we had his dog! I called him back immediately and was so happy to learn that the dog we had named “Miss-A-Toe” was actually his missing dog, Athena!” said Alisha Vianello, Gateway Pet Guardians Program Director.

GPG had taken in “Miss-A-Toe” from St. Clair County Animal Control in Illinois in early December after they had worked with law enforcement authorities to confiscate her and other dogs from a property, including one dog who was unfortunately deceased.

“Everyone involved in her rescue had been so puzzled as to how a dog who not only was spayed but was also healthy and had received a life-saving surgery was on the property with other dogs who seemed likely to have never received veterinary care,” said Vianello. “All the missing pieces really came together when I spoke to Dylan. The next day I contacted her foster family, who was thrilled for her and arranged a time for everyone to meet at the GPG facility.”

On New Year’s Day, GPG staff and Athena’s foster family celebrated in heartwarming fashion by reuniting Athena with her long-lost dad.

“I was so happy to hear that she was safe and doing well and being reunited with her was incredible” said Summers. “She is already settled back in at home and it’s like she never left. I am so appreciative of Gateway Pet Guardians for getting her back home to me.”

For more information about Gateway Pet Guardians, visit